Tsunami toll still rising

The number of people killed in last week's undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean has reached almost 146,000.

    Indonesian officials confirmed a further 14,000 dead

    The toll in Indonesia, which bore the brunt of the 26 December catastrophe, rose to 94,100 on Tuesday, the Indonesian health ministry said.

     

    The United Nations warned overnight, however, that Indonesia's casualty figure could rise exponentially with perhaps tens of thousands more dead as yet unaccounted for.

     

    The UN puts the toll at approximately 150,000.

     

    Many bodies are still unidentified as they have begun to decompose.

     

    Aljazeera's correspondent in Indonesia, Sohaib Jassim, said following a very large explosion, a high wall of water containing a hot, black, muddy substance erased everything in the villages, covering bodies and causing them to rot in just three hours.

     

    Dead and missing

     

    In Sri Lanka, 30,196 were confirmed killed by the tsunami, while a further 3792 were listed as missing, the president's office said.

     

    Sri Lankan victims wait for food

    rations from special forces

    The official toll in India stood at 15,485, comprising 9571 confirmed fatalities and a further 5914 who were missing, many of them presumed dead, the government said on Tuesday.

     

    In Thailand, interior ministry figures put the toll at 5187; 2463 foreigners, 2362 Thais and 362 whose race could not be established.

     

    It said 3810 were missing, eight days after the waves hit resorts and fishing villages in six provinces along the Andaman Sea coast. Officials say most of the missing are presumed dead.

     

    In Myanmar, at least 90 people were reportedly killed, according to the UN, but the real toll was expected to be far higher.

     

    At least 75 people were killed and another 42 were confirmed missing in the Maldives, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said.

     

    Sixty-eight people were dead in Malaysia, most of them in Penang, police said.

     

    In Bangladesh a father and child were killed after a tourist boat capsized in large waves, officials said.

     

    Fatalities also occurred on the east coast of Africa where 176 people were declared dead in Somalia, 10 in Tanzania and one in Kenya.

     

    The US Geological Survey said the earthquake west of the Indonesian island of Sumatra measured 9.0 on the Richter scale - making it the largest quake worldwide in four decades.

     

    Debt relief

     

    Britain, with US backing, called on Tuesday for a freeze on foreign debts owed by the countries hit by the Asian tsunami disaster.

     

    "What we are suggesting is an immediate moratorium on debt repayments from the afflicted countries"

    Gordon Brown,
    British finance minister

    "What we are suggesting is an immediate moratorium on debt repayments from the afflicted countries," said finance minister Gordon Brown as Britain assumed the presidency of the G8 group of industrialised countries.

     

    "That would then lead to an analysis of the debt needs of these countries, with the possibility of some write-off of debt.

     

    "We are talking initially about $3 billion in debt repayment each year by the most affected countries," Brown said.

     

    Brown hopes to announce a deal at a meeting of the Paris Club group of creditor nations when it meets on 12 January.

     

    Military Aid  

     

    Japan has ordered its military to prepare to assist disaster relief efforts in Indonesia, in what could be its largest such dispatch ever, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

     

    Defence Minister Yoshinori Ohno had ordered units including army medical and airlift teams, navy vessels, and air force transport aircraft to prepare to dispatch for emergency disaster relief, the ministry said in a statement.

     

    A spokeswoman at the ministry added that the units may conduct relief missions in other countries if asked.

     

    Another official at the ministry said the number of troops involved should be around 800.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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