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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 January, 2005, 10:38 GMT
Weather disrupts Sri Lanka rescue
Sri Lankan children queue for food at camp for displaced people in the south-western coastal town of Hikkaduwa
Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans have been displaced
Severe weather in Sri Lanka is disrupting efforts to help more than one million people affected by the tsunami disaster.

Flash floods have prevented aid workers reaching some parts of the island.

Local health officials have warned of a possible outbreak of disease in crowded refugee centres.

The government says more than 30,000 people may have died when huge waves swamped the coast on Sunday.

Hopes are fading for thousands still missing.

The military says some bridges and roads have been damaged by flash floods, and the south-eastern town of Akkarapathu is under 3ft (90cm) of water.

Some tents and plastic sheeting have been distributed, but many people displaced by the disaster have little or no shelter.

Buddhist monks distribute food in Galle

A military spokesman warned that several thousand other people remain cut off in isolated areas in the south-east, but helicopters and navy vessels are ferrying food, water and medicine to the impoverished region.

The poor weather is also hampering efforts to help tens of thousands of people left homeless or injured in territory controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Tigers have been burning bodies and spraying chemicals in devastated areas of the north-east to try to head off an outbreak of disease and infection.

A spokesman said the rebels would accept aid from the government, and they have been meeting international donors to co-ordinate aid deliveries.

Foreign aid workers say the co-operation between the government and the rebels is unprecedented.

Mass graves

Aid is being sent out of the capital, Colombo.

The BBC's Gina Wilkinson in the hard-hit southern town of Galle says there is now a steady stream of trucks arriving there.

The size and scale of this devastation is something I never could imagine, let alone think I'd see in my lifetime
Tim Costello,
World Vision Australia

Ten of thousands of Sri Lankans have volunteered to help with the clean-up, our correspondent says.

But she says the challenge is to co-ordinate efforts and reach outlying villages.

In one village alone there are four refugee camps, each crammed with 2,000 people.

There is no sanitation and there are reports of dysentery.

Tim Costello, head of World Vision Australia, said it had requested police escorts to help ease the passage of the convoys out of the capital.

"The size and scale of this devastation is something I never could imagine, let alone think I'd see in my lifetime," he said.

Most of the country's dead are being buried in mass graves.

In Galle, Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists have been holding joint burial services.

Friday was a designated day of mourning as the country struggled to come to terms with the disaster.

New Year celebrations were cancelled and a half-day holiday called in many places to allow staff to attend services.

Many workers dressed in the white of mourning and white flags adorned cars and homes.

Survivors have been cut off by monsoon flooding


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