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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 18:44 GMT
Tamil Tigers call for international help
By Ethirajan Anbarasan
BBC Tamil service

Boats overturned in Batticaloa
About 90% of boats and fishing equipment was lost in the region
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels say Sunday's tsunami killed nearly 10,000 people in areas under their control and they are still trying to locate hundreds of missing fishermen.

As the news trickled in from rebel-held areas in the north and the east, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam also appealed for international help to cope with the disaster.

"Most coastal villages in our areas have been wiped out by the waves. Many fishing communities have disappeared," the head of the Tigers' political wing, SP Thamilselvan, told the BBC.

"The world hasn't got a real picture of what has happened here."

While the rebel claims are hard to verify, local journalists who visited hospitals in rebel-held areas say more than 4,000 deaths could be confirmed and that hundreds of bodies are still scattered on the beaches and in backwaters.

Displaced

Tiger rebels say the massive surge of sea water penetrated more than a kilometre inland, engulfing everything on the way.

At Mullaitivu on the north-east coast, more than 20 villages have simply disappeared, Mr Thamilselvan said.

We hear that the government is getting massive international aid... So far no relief work has been carried out here
SP Thamilselvan,
Tamil Tigers

Rebels also fear for the fate of hundreds of fishermen who were at sea.

"Few have returned," said Mr Thamilselvan.

In addition to the loss of life, the rebel leader said the fishing community had lost nearly 90% of its equipment and boats.

Thousands of displaced people have sought refuge in government schools, marriage halls and other buildings.

The Tiger rebels also suffered casualties. Reports said some of their coastal camps were badly hit and up to 20 cadres were killed.

'Good co-ordination'

"The region was already suffering due to 20 years of civil war and now this disaster has added to the people's difficulties. People have nothing to go back to their villages," Mr Thamilselvan said.

Devastation in Mullaitivu
More than 20 villages at Mullaitivu simply disappeared, rebels say

The Tigers say government aid is not reaching them and they fear the administration may get most of the international help.

"We hear that the government is getting massive international aid and trying to help people affected in Sri Lanka's southern part. So far no relief work has been carried out here," Mr Thamilselvan said.

Reacting to criticism that rebels normally do not allow foreign aid agencies to operate directly in rebel areas, Mr Thamilselvan said aid agencies were welcome if they could co-ordinate with the Tamil Tiger relief agencies.

He also denied reports that rebels were blocking aid agencies from getting directly into rebel-held areas in the east.

However, Sri Lankan presidential spokesperson Harim Peiris told the BBC the government was transporting food and medicine to rebel-held areas and there was good co-ordination between the two sides.

He also said that the rebels had been invited to join the committee appointed for overseeing relief efforts, both at the national and district levels.


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