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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 23:06 GMT
Tsunami impact felt one month on
By Becky Branford
BBC News

An Indonesian volunteer stands by a body in the rubble of collapsed houses in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia
Aid agencies say local people have worked tirelessly since disaster struck
Exactly a month after the tsunami struck shores around the rim of the Indian Ocean, huge challenges remain for survivors, governments and aid agencies in the region.

The known death toll in the dozen countries affected, which stretch from Malaysia to Tanzania, is now 142,000, with an additional 147,000 people missing, many presumed dead.

But the disaster spread even beyond these borders, with nationals from more than 50 other nations lost.

Millions of people have been displaced; hundreds of thousands more have lost their livelihoods.

The death toll continues to rise in Indonesia where more than 220,000 are now confirmed dead or missing, and 1,000 bodies a day are still being collected on the ground in the province of Aceh, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

It is the only country where the UN says the aid response is still in the initial emergency and recovery phase.

Secondary phase

The shift toward a secondary phase of reconstruction is beginning elsewhere.

Sri Lanka and India have recorded 550,000 and 140,000 homeless people respectively.

An Indian man rests on the top of a fishing boat in the port of a tsunami-hit fishing village outside Nagapattinam, India
People who were already poor have lost the means to make a living
In the former, some 400,000 people are housed in temples and schools - meaning homes must be found before the semblance of a normal life can return for the majority.

Here and in Aceh province, tensions from decades-long conflicts must be held in check so the clean-up can progress.

In parts of southern India, the aid agency Oxfam says there is a "significant problem" in co-ordinating aid operations between a jumble of different agencies.

Thailand has struggled to identify its dead citizens and foreign tourists: only 700 Thai and 200 foreign victims are reported to have been identified by name out of more than 5,300 confirmed dead. A further 3,130 people remain missing.

No 'second wave'

But the UN says a swift international response has helped avert a "second wave of death".

Feared outbreaks of waterborne diseases among survivors in makeshift camps have not come to pass, the ICRC told the BBC News website.

The World Food Programme says it is now feeding 1.1 million people and the UN's children's agency, Unicef, has conducted wide-reaching vaccination campaigns.

The UN now says $5.3bn has been pledged by foreign governments in aid - though this can be disbursed as governments choose, and the UN has criticised nations in the past for failing to honour pledges.

A Western couple walks past a parasol with a swimsuit hanging out to dry on Patong beach in Phuket, southern Thailand
Operators say they hope the effects on tourism will be short-lived
However, of a "flash appeal" for $977m (522m) requested by the UN for immediate emergency operations, $775m has been received, the UN's Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told the BBC News website.

Contributions have also poured in from the public in nations around the world and the Paris Club of rich creditor nations has offered to freeze debt repayments by countries hit.

The tsunami's long-term impact on tourism, estimated to earn the region some $30bn a year, has yet to become clear but in its immediate aftermath hotel occupancy in the Maldives, for example, fell from 100% to between 20% and 40%.

In a region already suffering high rates of poverty, the tsunami's impact could serve to push another two million people into poverty, the Asian Development Bank cautions.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says reconstruction will take decades.

Half a million Acehnese alone are at risk of developing long-term mental disorders including depression, the WHO cautions. For those who lost everything, the scars may never disappear.

You can watch a BBC News Special "Asia One Month On" on this website, BBC1 and BBC World at 1930GMT

1. Indonesia: 95,000
2. Sri Lanka: 31,000
3. India (inc. Andaman and Nicobar islands): 10,744
4. Thailand: 5,384
5. Somalia: approx. 150
6. Burma: 59 (government figure)
7. Maldives: 82
8. Malaysia: 68 dead
9. Tanzania: 10
10. Seychelles: 1
11. Bangladesh: 2
12. Kenya: 1

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