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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 December 2005, 17:56 GMT
Tsunami probe scolds Swedish PM
Swedish flag in Phuket
Sweden lost more of its nationals than any other European country
An independent commission in Sweden has blamed Prime Minister Goran Persson for the government's inadequate response to the last year's Asian tsunami.

The commission said the cabinet had "lacked functional crisis leadership".

The disaster killed more than 500 Swedes - the highest casualty toll among European nations.

The commission criticised the delays which it said caused trauma for the affected families. Mr Persson "has overall responsibility", it said.

The commission recommended that a crisis response centre be set up with full power to act in such situations.

The tsunami on 26 December killed more than 220,000 people in several Asian countries.

"In the commission's opinion, Prime Minister Goran Persson has the all-embracing responsibility for the government offices' shortcomings in their handling of the consequences of the tsunami," the report said.

Responding to fierce criticism in parliament, Mr Persson said "I can only regret the mistakes that were made."

"On behalf of the entire government, I apologise," he said.

The report said Mr Persson was told about the tsunami early on 26 December but was not updated regularly by aides.

It criticised ministers and medical officials for failing to respond quickly as the true scale of the disaster emerged. Many officials did not interrupt their Christmas holidays to deal with the crisis, it noted.

The report was commissioned after the government's response to the tsunami was heavily criticised by ordinary Swedes and the media.



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