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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 11:20 GMT
Powell pledges tsunami support
US Secretary of State Colin Powell huge Thailand's Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai on his arrival at Foreign Ministry in Bangkok Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005.
Mr Powell discussed with Thai officials how best to handle the crisis
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said America will give Thailand the support it needs most - help with reconstruction and identifying bodies.

He was speaking in Thailand at the start of a visit to countries worst hit by the Asian tsunami disaster.

"The US will certainly not turn away from those in desperate need," he said.

Correspondents say the US is sending a strong signal it is fully engaged in the relief effort, following criticism of its initial response.

"The aftermath of the tsunami is a tragedy for the entire world... I think we have demonstrated in recent days our willingness to provide support," Mr Powell said, in reference to his government's pledge of $350m in aid.

The US secretary of state met senior members of the Thai government in Bangkok to try and assess how best the United States can help, before travelling to the tourist resort island of Phuket.

Germany: 60 dead
1,000 missing
Sweden: 52 dead
2,322 missing
Britain: 40 dead
159 missing
France: 22 dead
99+ missing
Norway: 21 dead
150 missing
Japan: 21 dead
Italy: 18 dead
540+ missing
Switzerland: 16 dead
105 missing
US: 15 dead
Australia: 12 dead
79 missing
South Korea: 11 dead
9 missing
Figures include those feared dead but not all unaccounted for.
Sources: Reuters, AP

Thai officials have said they need the assistance of technical experts rather than food aid or cash and Mr Powell said it was important to target the right sort of help where it was needed most.

"The financial need of Thailand is not as great as financial needs, say, in Indonesia or Sri Lanka... Forensic support, reconstruction support - that's the kind of support Thailand will need, and not direct financial assistance," Mr Powell said.

"We talked earlier about whether or not our reconnaissance planes could help them in analysing the mangrove area beyond the beach line, there may be many bodies located in these mangrove areas. Is there any way we can help with that?"

Mr Powell toured relief tents in Phuket, and looked at a bulletin board carrying photos of hundreds still missing.

A BBC correspondent in Thailand, Kylie Morris, says the secretary of state appeared slightly stunned by the devastation.

Mr Powell will later arrive in the Indonesian province of Aceh, before attending a summit on the crisis in Jakarta on Thursday.

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