The Indian ocean earthquake disaster has claimed more than 140,000 lives.
However UN relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland said the death toll is likely to "grow exponentially" once aid workers can fully assess the extent of the damage.
More than 1.8 million need food aid, and about five million are homeless as a result of the undersea earthquake off Sumatra and the tsunami it triggered.
About $2bn in aid has so far been pledged by governments and international agencies.
Readers of the BBC News website sent in their own experiences of the disaster.
We discussed the Asia tsunami disaster in our global phone-in programme Talking Point with the head of the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jan Egeland.
I have just returned from Sri Lanka. I was staying in Unawatuna where my hotel and the surrounding area were hit by the wave.
I have spent the last 10 days delivering aid to affected parts of Sri Lanka, including Unawatuna and the North East Trincomalee and Keeniya.
My friend and I tried to work with the Red Cross and UN but had very little joy and ended up doing it all ourselves using local contacts.
In total we helped about 1500 families with basic provisions, such as food, water, sleeping mats, baby food, lamps etc.
Matt Bennett, London
I was horrified to hear of the tsunami on Boxing Day. I have visited the Maldives - Reethi Beech - only in June 2003. It was a lovely beautiful tranquil place. I know the island itself is ok - but I hope that all the holidaymakers and staff are ok as well as their families. I went to a fishing village whilst in the Maldives but I am unable to find out whether the island is ok. I pray that it is.
Nina, Northants, England
There were 9 of us (6 grown-ups and 3 small children) on our way to Poda Island where we planned to sun-bath on the beach and do some snorkelling. We saw the wave coming, though did not realize it was so high until it was quite near us. We turned back to Ao Nang, but were hit by the wave shortly after. All of us managed to get back to the shore and were there helped out of the water by some Thai men and tourists (Australians I think). We are very thankful for your help! We could have not managed it without you helping us out while risking your own lives! Thank you very much.
Ewa Kloskowska, Ao Nang
At 7.30 that morning vibrations were felt by some, but nothing was really thought of it. By 10.30am the tsunamis hit our island of Olhuveli, Maldives. We had seconds to react, the wave was so powerful. Whizzing past me was bedroom furniture, TVs, fridges. We had to fight for our lives. The experience was terrifying. I never thought we were going to get of the island alive. The whole island was destroyed. The devastation was immense. The fear, people screaming and blood everywhere, will stay with me for a long time. I lost everything but I am so grateful for my life. I have an overwhelming feeling of sadness that is constantly with me, and this is for the people that really have lost everything. I think about the islanders and what wonderful people they are. I have thought of going back there to help them try and rebuild their island. God bless them all.
Rita Davie, Bexleyheath, Kent, UK
I am a teacher in Phuket. I drove inland as the first wave hit the island. The earth tremor we felt was big, but we just couldn't work out what it was. An earthquake was the last thing we could imagine. So we just continued as usual, packing up to go on a New Year holiday on the Gulf of Thailand. I'm one of the lucky ones. This has been the worst experience of my life. I drove through Khao Lak on Monday and felt tranquilised, as if it was all a very weird, scary dream. The images and smells will not leave me. One feels so overwhelmed when faced with such devastation. Where do you begin? How do you help? You feel helpless and guilty for being alive and unharmed. We have decided to help the children. Our school is sponsoring another school demolished in the Patong disaster. We are helping with books, stationery, food and clothing. And of course, moral support. Ordinary individuals are performing heroic tasks, swallowing their own loss and sadness, to help others.
Justine, Phuket, Thailand
On 26 December, I felt the earth shake at 6.30am. I live in Tiruvanmiyur, Madras about 500 metres from the sea. I was sitting in a chair in my room when the ground started shaking. My ears were blocked and I couldn't breathe. The windows started rattling. I asked my Dad to open the gates as I didn't know what was happening. It was very early and no one was on the streets. We were too shocked and surprised and we did not know what to do. We went to church and returned at noon. The beach was crowded with people who had come to see the water which had covered the beach. It was a miracle that we were saved. We did not know about tsunamis and had no idea that the earthquake had hit Indonesia. We were celebrating Christmas with cakes and church service. I was so afraid that I could not sleep for days as we did not know if the tsunami would hit our beach again. I am still too frightened to go to the beach. It is not safe any more. This is the second time we have experienced earthquakes. Please advise if we should leave our homes and move to a safer place.
Jenny Lawrence, Madras, India
I had been spending holidays with my family in Phuket, Thailand. It was a Sunday morning and we were staying in a beach front resort at the Patong Beach when I woke up feeling tremors followed by huge walls of water that struck the beach after a little while. It was a horrific experience as I along with my family ran for our lives to the hotel's roof top. It was as close a call as I had experienced. Death was very close.
Rifat Jalal Khan, Karachi, Pakistan
I was probably 2000 km away from Aceh when the tsunami disaster happened, but my older brother was right there in Banda Aceh. We couldn't contact him for more than two days. Several friends of him who managed to escape to Medan even told my mother that he might not had survived. I am lucky enough to have my brother back at home right now, but many of my other friends weren't as lucky as me. Many of their relatives in Aceh remains unable to be contacted till now. At the time the tsunami struck Banda Aceh, my brother witnessed water coming from two sides of the road, and he saw water spilling over a 1.5 meter fence of wall.
Main streets was filled by cars, motors, and people running to the same direction: away from the water. Although the waves didn't destroy his house, he saw a small pile of dead bodies next to it. He retreated to a higher place together with his friend and many other refugees. Local police worked 24 hours per-day evacuating people to refugee camps. At Wednesday he managed to travel to Lhokseumawe and then to Medan by bus, which took more than one day. Usually it takes less than half a day on normal condition. He also said the earthquake was big too, people couldn't stand still unless they hold on to something, like my brother who hold on to a coconut tree.
Irfansyah, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
I was lucky enough to escape the disaster, being on a boat just off Ko Phi Phi when it hit. I have since been volunteering at Krabi hospital and Khao Lak Temple (makeshift morgue). The sites that i and other tourist volunteers have seen are horrific but at least we can all go back to a nice comfortable life in our own countries. There are many refugees in Thailand and I'm sure a load more in Indonesia and Sri Lanka that don't have this luxury. If you have the financial capacity to donate towards their cause please do as I've seen the destruction first hand and take it from me, they need the help.
Adam, Hertfordshire, England
My family and I were in Sri Lanka, staying in Galle. Our villa was in the fort and so we were protected when the wave came. Initially we thought it was just a flood as some of the streets of the fort were rivers of sea water and the power had gone. Only later we observed the destruction in Galle town from the ramparts of the fort. The cricket pitch was completely flooded and on it was a bus and a 40ft freight container. The coastline was simply rubble where houses had stood before. People were milling around without purpose; many had lost absolutely everything including their families. Everyone had lost someone dear to them.
Nick Muddle, St Albans, UK
We arrived back from Kata Beach on Phuket today as scheduled. Yes there are areas of complete devastation, but others are almost back to normal. Kata was lucky compared with the likes of Phi-Phi Patong and Khoa Lak, Are deepest sympathy goes out to all who lost families a friends, Having many Thai and expat friends who operate within the tourist industries on Phuket the message from them is Please don't desert us we need you to survive. In Kata beach apart from the beach beds being missing you would hardly know there had been a disaster. As a diver myself I have seen the underwater damage to the reefs, It is not as bad as some have reported, Yes there is a lot of sand and debris, but the marine life is still flourishing. So help the people in Phuket the way they want to be helped. Pack your suit cases and visit them,
Steven Prior, Accrington
The government is now suggesting that debts can be frozen - why don't all the governments wipe out the debts altogether - including Africa. This would mean so much to all the countries where life is difficult due to poverty even before the wave struck!
I agree with Mr Clinton. The countries offering aid should be split in areas they agree to manage and adopt and this way, it avoids duplication, and increase focus on a specified country. This stance should be taken once all the people have received food/aid, perhaps in a months time and agree long term plans.
Jay Kotecha, Bushey, UK
I don't really think talking tourism is a good idea right now - especially if it means people just sitting on beaches or in bars as it appears is happening in parts of Phuket. I urge all holidaymakers out there now to get up from those beaches, put down your drinks and do whatever you can to help the effort for recovery, like many of us "not on the ground" are trying to do through fund raising.
Ken, Bournemouth UK
Reading the views from the faithful and atheists; what is really evident is that apocalyptic events although rare point to one simple fact, mere humans stand little to no chance against the forces of nature. It would be unwise to question "acts of God" as this may ultimately be mankind's only hope
G Idium, UK
I can only hope that along with the worldwide donations the pharmaceutical companies are providing necessary drugs for free to help with the impending disease escalation!
Mark Phillips, Berkhamsted
Jude and I were lying by the pool in Batu Ferrenghi hotel when all of a sudden a commotion occurred from the direction of the sea - people were scrambling up the bank to get away from the water - parents were crying out for their loved ones.
I saw bodies floating in the sea and as I approached a couple of local men who were bringing a body ashore, they said she was dead so I went after another body, but the swell of the ocean was too much.
Meanwhile Jude was giving mouth to mouth on the previous body - but with no response, the effort was futile. We were a few of the very fortunate ones to escape unscathed - others were not so lucky.
Paul and Jude, Shropshire, England
I was on the beach on Hong Island off the Thailand coast when the wave hit. I just want to pass on my heartfelt thanks to the local people who evacuated us from the island and also to the wonderful doctors, nurses and volunteers who treated us with such kindness at Krabi Hospital.
John Chadwick, Kingston upon Thames, UK
Being a Sri Lankan, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the UK public who have given so generously to help the victims of this terrible disaster. I sincerely hope that every penny donated will be used for the purpose of bringing relief to the victims of all countries affected.
Roshan Herath, High Wycombe, UK
I was fortunate enough to have visited Phuket, Thailand, twice. Both times I have stayed at Merlin Beach Resort. It's very very sad what happened and my heart goes out to all who have been affected. When I see the photos of Patong when it got hit, I can't believe its the same Patong I visited only 8 months ago. My thoughts are with the ones who have lost their loved ones.
Maria, Melbourne, Australia
As a resident of Thailand, I find it all rather encouraging that tourists are beginning to return.
But, it is the type of tourist returning here that makes my hair stand up.
The majority of these people are enjoying their holidays as if nothing had happened.
It would be nice, if any of them are reading these posts, if they would spend a little time perhaps in making financial donations, giving blood or helping in some manner that would make a difference. Ever thought of spending an afternoon visiting complete strangers in hospitals and giving them some support?
To those that are making a difference, no matter how small, thank you.
If you have friends or loved ones in the affected areas enjoying a holiday, ask them if they have made a difference today.
Stephen, Bangkok, Thailand
As an Englishman living in Thailand I rely heavily on the BBC for news. I would like to thank you for your efforts in informing the world about the disaster that we are presently experiencing in Asia. I would also like to thank the British people for your outstanding generosity in this time of need. I have donated what I can but sadly I think it's not enough. I have one comment in particular to make and that is that although the West coast of Thailand has been hit by a Tsunami do not hesitate in coming for a holiday now or in the future. Phuket has not been hit as badly as the media suggest and the Thai people have extraordinary willpower and will welcome you with open hearts, as tourists, as much as before. Please, media around the world, show the positive as well as the negative.
Sam Sherwin, Bangkok, Thailand
I came back from Phuket yesterday evening (3 Jan 05) after I'd done my tiny part of helping out during my New Year's break. I've seen loss..I've felt loss, although none of my relatives or friends were there. Thanks for the comments that praised the Thais during the incident. I think all the people who are still helping out right now would be proud of what they've done and are doing.
For those who can make it home all right, please do take care of your life. Now you know how precious life is. For those who lost their love ones, I'm very sorry about that. Please be strong.
Suchada S., Bangkok, Thailand
Although it's very sad to hear and read about the disaster tsunami has caused, it's very encouraging and heartening to learn that the Muslim, Hindu and Christian organisations in South India are helping their fellow Indians whatever religion/community the victims belong to. Hope, the world learns a thing or two from them.
After watching the devastating news for the last week or so it was wonderful this morning to do something practical by attending an appeal in our local village that was organised through Meltham Churches Together to raise funds for the Tsunami appeal; I couldn't believe how much had been done with regard to giving things to be sold and the amount of people involved in the coffee morning; everybody wanted to do something, however small. My husband also went to the local Oxfam shop to help out but unfortunately it was shut but he is going to try again at the weekend. What we must remember is that the damage will not be solved quickly and that practical help is going to be needed in the long term. I pray that communities will come together and work as one to do what is needed. Sometimes it seems so inadequate, but if we all try to do something we can move mountains.
Corrine Scandling, Huddersfield, England
The thoughts of missing children and devastated families have occupied my thoughts since this tragedy occurred. We send money through the Red Cross and community fundraising, but there remains that extremely frustrating feeling of helplessness, of not being able to change what occurred. All we can hope is that the assistance we CAN offer will continue for the years it is needed, and that in the future extensive warning systems will be utilised to prevent this from ever happening again. I wish desperately for the victims' families to find some sort of peace over time. Love from New York.
L.P., New York, USA
Within two hours of the first wave hitting our shores my church had already used our extensive network to get through to people to request dry rations and clothes. When my wife and I drove into church by 4pm with the goods, the ladies had already finished cooking the first batch of meals to be sent out. Volunteers were turning up each minute to help distribute. Over the next 4 days over 30 tons of food was collected and sent to mainly the East and North East as collectively everyone felt that this was the area that would need it the most. The reaction and warmth of Sri Lankans could not have been more ably shown.
Lenny, Dehiwela, Sri Lanka
There was a bunch of friends who organised a relief effort of two lorry loads of dry rations and water to be given to the affected in the east. The nicest gesture was from a group of Norwegians who actually came to Colombo to attend a wedding and ended up giving all the money they had in order for us to facilitate what was needed. Two of them also travelled to the east and helped to distribute rations to those affected.
Kashyapa Casper, Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka
My mother and father have put out a donation box in our restaurant for the tsunami victims. We weren't expecting the response we got. In a few days we have made a couple thousand dollars with generous donations from our patrons. On the 15th my father is flying back home to Thailand and he is going to deliver the money personally to the people in Phuket. It's really touching to know such kindness from strangers exists. I just want to thank everyone who has helped in some way for the victims of the tsunami.
Ploi, Virginia, USA
I was fortunate to have visited Thailand 2 years ago (Bangkok, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket)....it is truly a wonderful country full of equally wonderful people. After this natural tragedy that has taken so many lives, my blessings go to all that have lost a love one. I feel Thai today, and ask all others, like I definitively will, to visit soon this wonderful Kingdom, no better way to pay them back for all their courage and kindness to all victims!
Agustin Yerovi, Ecuador
On Sunday we made contact with our daughter Lynda, who together with her Indian husband Benny manage The Wild Orchid Resort on Havelock island, part of the Andaman group of islands, India. In spite of all the devastation on the Andaman and Nicobar islands, caused by last Sunday's tsunami, Havelock Island sustained very little damage and no fatalities. Due to the orientatation of the island and shallow waters they experienced just a very high tide causing some minor flooding.
When the tsunami hit, Lynda had just boarded a ferry for her return to Havelock from Port Blair. When the first wave hit, the Captain immediately sounded the alarm and headed full speed for open waters. Not a minute too late, because when the subsequent much larger waves hit the harbour, the jetty where the ferry was moored had disappeared. The ferry then headed to Havelock island, but was unable to tie up, because this jetty was flooded. After the seas calmed some 9 hours after departure, the ferry returned to Port Blair. The next day Lynda returned to Havelock and to her husband Benny who only knew she had been on the ferry when the tsunami hit.
Art and Klazina Ketting, Lanark, Ontario, Canada
I would like express my extreme sorrow for all affected. I arrived on Phuket three days ago and am impressed to see how the island has recovered. Isn't it time to show some good news? Phuket is a miracle island with only a few hundred casualties, not to be confused with other locations on the mainland who were less fortunate. Phuket's infrastructure is 100% intact. The best way of helping the local people is by spreading the good news instead of repeatedly showing week-old video clips.
John Beck, Phuket, Thailand
In reference to John Beck's posting, I find it simplistic in the extreme and almost insulting.
There are still thousands missing. Lives and entire families have been devastated.
Insurance for the small Mum and Dad shops that were washed away? Forget it.
I have just spoken to the general manager of an European airline who is now (noon Tuesday Bangkok time) sending off the last of some 30 or 40 flights over the past week with victims, live and sadly dead. His staff have been working 24 hour shifts.
I trust that Mr Beck's holiday is not inconvenienced by the reality of what has happened.
Stephen, Bangkok, Thailand
Today I received an email from a friend in Galle Fort who witnessed the tsunami from the ramparts beside the Amangalla Hotel (formerly New Oriental):
"...We watched in wonder from the hotel, puzzling what it was. It was not until we saw the roofs below us moving with people crashing towards the ramparts wall that we realised. The water flooded through the old gate of the Fort, carrying boats and cars with it. One of those boats is now outside my house. To give you an idea of the force of this water, the boat is so heavy we are still unable to move it without a JCB. Two days after I walked out into town. The shock of the devastation and carnage is still with me. It was 100 times worse than I had imagined."
Joe Simpson, Duncan, BC, Canada
My wife and I are on Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand. Our snorkelling trip was delayed by half an hour. Our boat guy was driving slowly when he suddenly took the propeller out the water to turn the boat around. We were watching biblical proportion waves crashing 3/4 the way up the islands. The walls of water headed our way were near 15ft but due to our boat guy's skill, he rode them out without tipping us over. There were 4 boats sunk and a 5th boat laden with snorkelling tourists missing people. Anxious to make it back, our driver negotiated the bounce back from the land which nearly threatened to tip us over again. Near the beach, we had to wait for a lull in the waves before motoring it safely in. If we hadn't been delayed, we would have been snorkelling where they were pulling out bodies. We were lucky today.
Lee & Lisa Matthews, Crawley, West Sussex, UK
At Railay Beach West, Phra Nang and Tonsai the bungalows, bars and restaurants have been washed out. I was on Phra Nang beach when the wave hit and there was general panic. Yachts and boats were being flipped over and people out swimming were trapped in caves. Lots of people were cut up and hurt in the initial surge as they were swept from the beach. People are reported to be missing who were out diving or on long boats. The helicopters have been lifting the badly injured out and there is electricity. No one really knows what's going on.
Zoe, Railay, Krabi
It is a most eerie feeling, me sitting here safe in my home watching the horror and heartbreak of the earthquake. I had a seat on a flight, a last minute, invitation to go to Phuket on Christmas Day, however after many phone calls, I was unable to get a room in any hotel on Patpong Beach. The series of my emotions overwhelm me, how does one celebrate their good fortune, in the face of such devastation to other families?
Elaine Armstrong, UAE
Arrived back in the UK on 29 Dec from the South West coast of Sri Lanka, where we watched the tsunami surge up the beach, into the swimming pool, and finally destroy the whole ground floor of the Koggala Beach Hotel - 15kms east of Galle. We were evacuated to a nearby Buddhist temple, where the Monks very generously welcomed 200 plus tourists into their home. The entire night was spent listening to helicopter rescue missions from the Air Force base close to the temple. The people of Sri Lanka cannot be commended enough on their sterling effort in ensuring our safety and wellbeing, despite their own suffering and devastation. It was truly a lesson in humility for us all.
Hazel McCullough, Chester, UK
We were on Phi Phi and escaped to the highest point of the resort where we spent the night. We saw the killer wave approach and it was terrifying. A make-shift hospital near the tennis court where the helicopter could land to transport the most serious cases to Phuket hospital. We would like everybody to know the Thais have been incredible in dealing with this disaster. We never came across a nation with so much kindness and care, even when the situation is dire. Many of the locals cannot swim and are petrified of water, yet they tried their utmost to make it bearable for us. We are deeply touched and would urge people to keep coming to this country because there are many places that have not been hit and tourism is a huge earner here. The worst would be to stay away now!
Toni and Ruth Cacciapaglia, Krabi - resident in London, UK
£50 just doesn't seem enough. I can replace that money with time, but these people cannot replace what has been lost. How could anyone turn their back? Words can't describe what we are seeing. This is the time we need to unite and help those who need it the most.
Beth, Gloucester, England
There are white flags of mourning all over Sri Lanka, and each day the death toll seems to be rising. The only way people can find some solace amidst all this destruction is to give all that they can to those who have nothing left. The amount of human compassion and support is astounding. It is, however, sad that it takes an act of nature for people to realise how fragile our existence is, and that really all the discrimination and the politics ultimately has very little value.
Maldives, one could say was lucky in this disaster compared to countries such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but there is still extensive work needed. Whole islands have been flattened leaving no buildings or infrastructure left. Horrific stories of a mother breastfeeding her three month old baby on the beach early that morning, and then losing her baby as the wave swept her away are only now coming out, as traumatised people start talking. It becomes apparent that relief in terms of physical supplies is not enough, the psychological impact of this is never going to leave these people and these countries.
Fathimath, Colombo, Sri Lanka originally Maldives
The Asian disaster came as a shock to the whole world at the end of the year. It was indeed sad to see people dying so inhumanly. It was indeed a great disaster not only to the affected countries but also the rest. This is the testing time not only for the government but also the public to come together and contribute a little in their own way. Let us not say it just with words but by putting them into action. Let us join our hands to make a difference to those who have lost their loved ones in the disaster.
Basty Latha Shenoy, Mangalore, India
I was very pleased to hear that some tourists have decided not to cancel their trip to Phuket this year and are, instead, helping with the clean up operation on the island. This is commendable action, as the island economy depends heavily on tourism and, as one of them said, it would be far worse for the affected people here if they had not come.
Tom Bishop, Chalong, Phuket , Thailand
Although news broadcasts say aid is only just reaching Aceh a friend of ours working in Bali has already got the first truckload of aid into the area with a further 17 lorries on the way if not there by now. A number of local NGOs have got together to get help underway much faster that the international agencies can get there. She has sent the following appeal for volunteers - "We are coordinating volunteers to go to Sumatra.
Please contact us at hp: 081-338-401653 for more info only if you are a skilled volunteer in any of the following categories (doctors, paramedics, peace-corps trained level volunteers) with Bahasa Indonesia skills, financial independence, vaccinated, valid visa, willing to commit to several weeks at least. Discounted vaccinations are available for volunteers via IDEP Aceh Aid initiative that are going to Sumatra from the International SOS clinic in Bali." Can anyone help?
Margaret Underwood, Abergavenny, Wales
My partner and I were staying in Beruwela on the South-West coast of Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit. We watched from the first floor of our hotel as a wall of water swept in and tore the ground floor
apart underneath us. Waiting to be evacuated to Colombo was very frightening as everyone was fearful of another and possibly bigger wave coming. At one stage we heard (wrongly) that another wave was coming and there was panic. Miraculously a fleet of small vehicle driven by local people arrived outside the hotel and we just jumped into a minibus.
We were taken up a hill to a place of safety where we were welcomed by a family and told we could stay as long as we needed to, amid all this death and destruction these people were trying to help us! We were shown the local mosque where hundred of locals were cooking, collecting and distributing food and supplies for those less fortunate. In the three days we were waiting to leave we saw many examples of ordinary Sri Lankans, many of whom had lost friends, family and livelihoods trying to help others who were worse off, it was a very moving experience.
We have since been in contact with the family who took us in and they are saying that what their country needs most urgently is practical help. Doctors, nurses and medicines, help with clearing roads and restoring electricity and water supplies. These people would have done anything to help us, it is time for the British Government to do more to help them.
Alison Clarke, Chelmsford UK
I live in Batticaloa, which is most affected area in eastern province of Sri Lanka. I have many sad stories to tell. But i don't know which is first. One of my friends lost his younger sister (16 years old) and all his properties. Another my friend Murali lost all his family members (mother, sister and two brothers). My sister's friend had a baby on 23 December 2004. Tsunami took away her with just 3-day-old baby. I can't believe it, but these are true. Who takes responsible for all of this? May God bless my country.
Kuhan, Batticaloa, Srilanka
Having just spoken to my brother who has just returned from Thailand I was obviously very pleased he and his wife were safe, however they had been on the east side of Thailand, and he said everything there was fine and they had had a lovely time in their hotel, even a gala and dinner on new year's eve with ice sculptures and lots of eating and partying! Doesn't the east side of the island want to help their fellow citizens on the west? What is going on, what kind of world do we live in? Yes the tourism will help the coutry as a whole survive, but surely this is taking things too far?
K Keech, Hull, England
Though the disaster is high in Asia, but Somalia also is suffering. see the pictures from CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/africa/12/31/
Abdishakur Mohamud Moalin, Vantaa, Finland
Can the press please stop with their nationalist bidding of the UK being the highest donator? It is false information: per capita the Swedes and the Dutch have given multiples of what the British are giving. The Dutch alone - in total - almost as much as the USA. If calculated per capita, the UK and the USA are at the bottom of the list, not at the top. Surprise, surprise!
Jan de Landtsheer, Littlehampton, UK
Well, today (1/1/05) after another round of awful figures in the papers it felt awful just to be sitting in a secluded courtyard in a French world almost as far removed from India as we felt removed from the chaos only kilometers away. A report in the papers metioned that there is a relief camp at the Pondicherry University campus only 15km north and the tourist information suggested that if we wanted to then metal cups and plates and rice would be useful to them there.
Not knowing the situation or what they really needed we bought 30 plates and cups and 25kilos of rice - all we could carry by ourselves and on the bus. We arrived to a scene of chaos: no structures, no camp, no organisation. Just families destitute sitting by the sides of the road and clamouring for the pitiful little we had managed to take - what good are 30 plates for 1000 people? There was no one to give the supplies to - the only people distributing any aid was a bus full of volunteers and foodstuffs from Tiruvanamellai. No government, no police, no NGOs nothing. Only the bemused university security guards.
These volunteers at the behest of some of the men from the village made us hide the supplies - to give so little to so many would only result in bitter acrimony and infighting. It was awful to remove from grabbing hands what they so desperately needed. We were taken then on a tour of the devastation. While from the road all looked well enough, 30m in the picture was completely different. Mud brick and thatch huts completely decimated. Flattened leaving only rubble and piles of straw. The engines and long propeller shafts of disappeared boats lay like glistening entrails amongst the rubbish. Here and there a lady forlornly picking at whatever remained of her house.
It was a dreadful scene of disaster and enormously humbling. Our small contribution paled ridiculously. We resolved to return tomorrow with 300 plates and a substantial number of cooking pots. They have food but nothing to cook it in and nothing to eat it off and no one has yet given anything of this sort - the money can pour into India but it will take a while for any of this to really reach the people on the ground. People at the camp are already succumbing to diarrhoea.
We have already ordered the 300 plates and our budget can only really stretch to the 50 additional rice pots and lids we have ordered. They had wanted 300. But we have no lorries, only a rickshaw. I fear that the small number of cooking pots will be laughed away once again. We need contributions to allow us to buy another 50 with lids c. 70GBP, which we should be able to squeeze into the same rickshaw. I shall be returning tomorrow at about 1200. It is certainly very hard to comprehend how all these displaced people only 15km north of such a relatively prosperous city and state could be so neglected.
Oliver Twinch, At Pondicherry
My family and I were staying on Patong Beach over Xmas, and were very fortunate to escape in one piece, with only my father suffering superficial injuries from being hit by the second wave whilst trying to climb onto our villa roof. This much cannot be said for many other people at our hotel, and in the general area of Patong. We cannot believe our good fortune, and would like to make special mention of the generosity, compassion and efficiency of the Thai people (police, medical, immigration etc, as well as the locals) who made this whole ordeal significantly less traumatic than it could have been.
We are all safe back home now (Mum and Dad in Adelaide, and my brother and I in London), and we would ask all readers to please dig deep for the many thousands of people not as lucky as us. Sheri Pickering
Sheri Pickering, London, UK
I'm flying out to Trivandrum on the 2nd of Jan to deliver supplies and help directly 10,000 refugees; mainly the families of lost fisherman, based in Southern Kerela, India. If anybody would like to come/raise funds/donate money for food please contact me asap.
Howard Carter, London, UK
The worst affected areas are the northern part of Sri Lanka, such as Batticaloa, Mullaittivu and the eastern coastal lines. Unfortunately, the reporters are just only reporting from Galle, but the other parts are being ignored even by the government. The aid is being sent to Sri Lanka but not being supplied to the North. This is the truth and the people are dying but, the supplies don't go to the East (the most and the worst effected areas). BBC reporters should consider this and should broadcast about the government's political ignorance. If you could contact the charity organisation in the Mullaittivu district to get the information, the number is 0094712390604.
Dearan, London, UK.
At last I have just spoken to our friend a Sri Lankan, his village has just received fresh water, he was touched to hear the huge amounts of money raised for the victims of the Tsunami and asked me to thank everyone.
Trina, Rochester Kent
Myself and my family were at the Pelangi beach resort in Langkawi on the devastating day. I was in the sea which is normally like a mill pond when I noticed a line of surf about half a mile out at sea which was so strange I ran to our ocean view room and called my family to come out to look they joined me on the beach when almost instantly the sea disappeared back to the line of surf in the distance leaving a sea bed full of fish, octopuses etc. It was then that the sea just attacked. It came in so fast there were people still on the beach.
My wife and kids ran through the grounds somehow, just keeping in front of the giant swell. I could see a man crying, he stood still in shock with his daughter crying for help, stuck in the water.
I managed to get her to safety along with her father. I then turned to see a elderly guy with his arms out but I couldn't get to him through the pressure of the wave he travelled passed me at such speed I was too late, I decided to try to make my way through the ground to safety but the problems I had was that the air conditioning units were all under water and they were all going bang with all smoke and I was fearing getting electrocuted.
To add to this the pool at the hotel is a lagoon style which covers most of the grounds and had become invisible under all the filthy water and my concerns were then that small children and the like may have submerged into the pool below. I carried a few maids to the safer places on my way. Out there was mass panic and it took me two hours to find my family who were across the main road in a raised area. We stayed in a school the next night and with great difficulty got a flight home the next day. We were due to go to Penang the next day but were told by our rep that they had it worse than us. To cap it off, nobody died at our hotel which was a miracle but my thoughts are with the families and friends of the dead in other areas.
Andrew Molloy, Loughborough England
My son and his girlfriend are in Sri Lanka and we found out they were OK on Monday, 27 December. We had 26 hours of sheer torture. Our hearts go out to all the other families who are still waiting for news.
Christina Dadge, Liverpool, United Kingdom
On behalf of Thai people, I would like to thank for all your help, and for all stories listed here. I know that all Thai, as hosts, will not let any of their friends facing the disaster alone. I believe that they do their best. I wrote this with tears, have lost friends at Phra Thong Island
Pardon Bhlapibul, Bangkok Thailand
My partner and I were waiting for a boat on a floating jetty on Thailand's Phi Phi island when the tsunami hit us. It swept us into the sea but we managed to clamber aboard a nearby boat and survived. The boat was sinking but rode the second wave and we were able to jump to a more sturdy boat. Eventually a passing speed boat picked us up (together with a couple from Argentina who had also climbed aboard) and we then spent about 5 hours on the sea riding the waves until it could get close enough in to shore for us to swim to safety.
We spent the night in the open on a high point on the island being looked after by tourists and locals alike. The next day, because I was injured, we were carried by helicopter to Phuket, got treatment in the hospital there and then were driven by ambulance straight onto the tarmac of Phuket airport and into a plane for Bangkok, all free of charge. I am now recovering in a Bangkok hospital. The generosity and kindness of the Thai people has been overwhelming. We have had free flights, first class and efficient treatment in hospitals, even in Phuket which was inundated with patients. Their organisation was fantastic. Back in Bangkok friends and strangers alike have been wonderful. The Thais really are very special people and their organisation and efficiency in dealing with this disaster must be given the highest praise by the international community. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and who are injured, we share in their grief.
Simon Dowell, Chester
I sincerely believe that the Indian governmment should not have refused help from outside. For one, the management of the disaster is poor and not meticulous. The target reach has not even been remotely achieved. I am a medical student, and I see an even more potential disaster from diseases. In Nagapattinam, not one is willing to touch the dead bodies, which still lie scattered decomposing. India and other countries need every help possible.
Balaji Ravichandran, Chennai (Madras), India
I am currently in Sri Lanka staying with friends in the village of Waskaduwa on the South West coast. This area was not one of the worst hit but along the beach front many houses have been flattened and people killed. The people did not have much to start with, they have now lost what little they had. I would appeal to everybody to give as much as they can to the relief organizations. The task they face here is huge. The damage to the infra-structure here will take months if not years to repair. I am sure that with the help of the rich nations the people of Sri Lanka and the other countries will come through this tragedy.
Robert Cox, Gloucester, UK
To anyone intending to go to the disaster zone still as tourists as tourist: why not make space in your suitcase to take spare clothes, simple things like pain killers, a box of surgical gloves, face masks, shoes. If you call any on the help lines you can ask what is urgently needed and what exactly to take.
Christianna Franck, London
I like to thank wholeheartedly the British public for their enormous generosity to Sri Lankan people. I am a Sri Lankan living in Uk. I am touched by these gestures like any other Sri Lankan, for the continuous support we had from everyone. The continuous support given by the public has given us strength and hope for the future.
Melanie Lunuwila-Arulraj, London
This is the horrifying natural disaster and heart breaking to see the condition of the victims, as the damage unfolds you can imagine how small human beings in the forces of nature.
AP Saradhi, Vizag, India
I've just watched a live news report (15.10 Thai Time,1 Jan 2005) from BBC World TV from the top of the Novotel in Patong. The video shot behind the reporter shows incomplete buildings and piles of rubble in the foreground. The reporter implies that these building have been damaged or fallen down by the wave. In fact these buildings were not touched by the water and are under construction and that's why they are not complete and the rubble in the foreground is the vacant site where the trucks are dumping all the rubble collected from along the streets of Patong. No concrete constructed buildings have fallen down (as far as I know) in Patong. Shame on the BBC, one of the most respected and trusted TV channels.
Last night a friend of mine actually visited the Novotel to challenge this BBC about just that sort of reporting from the Novotel rooftop. Many of us locals and tourists here in Patong are furious about this negative, sensational, and incorrect reporting about Patong. Reporters are getting mixed up with other very badly damaged areas of Thailand (Khao Lak & Phi Phi) and other countries unfortunate enough to have suffered much more severe damage and death toll. This negative reporting is killing any chance for the current tourist industry here on beautiful Phuket Island.
Alex Malcolm, Patong, Phuket, Thailand