News and Information
Wave toll 'could exceed 100,000'
|December 29, 2004
| The number of dead from Sunday's Indian Ocean sea surges is likely to rise above 100,000, the Red Cross has said.
Senior agency official Peter Rees said he thought the toll would rise sharply when victims are counted on India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Almost 77,000 people have so far been confirmed dead.
US President George W Bush pledged to set up an international coalition, with Australia, India and Japan, to co-ordinate the relief effort.
The US earlier said it was more than doubling its pledge of funds to the region to $35m.
The 9.0 magnitude quake happened just off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra early on Sunday, setting off waves that smashed into coastlines as far away as Africa.
Click here for map of affected area
Plane loads of supplies have started arriving across the region, as aid agencies strive to bring relief as quickly as possible.
The UN says disease could double the number killed by the waves.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the death toll from the actual disaster could reach six figures once more remote areas are checked for victims.
Click below to see images of Kalutara Beach, Sri Lanka, before and after the quake
More than 500,000 have been reported injured across the region.
"We're facing a disaster of unprecedented proportion in nature," said the federation's Asia-Pacific chief, Simon Missiri.
Many thousands of people are still unaccounted for, notably in the Indian-administered Andaman and Nicobar Islands near the earthquake's epicentre.
Three aftershocks have also hit the islands, which have a total population of 350,000.
Some parts are still said to be cut off from the outside world.
CONFIRMED DEATH TOLL
Sri Lanka: 22,493
World's worst disasters
At-a-glance: Countries hit
At least 4,000 are known to have died on the islands, but a police chief who has flown over the stricken areas said one in five of the islanders was either dead, missing or injured.
Officials said roads had been washed away and bridges destroyed making it harder for rescuers to move around.
In Tamil Nadu state on the Indian mainland, officials have given up trying to count victims and are concentrating instead on burying the dead and helping survivors.
But there was some good news from Sri Lanka, one of the worst-hit countries, where large-scale animal deaths appear to have been avoided.
Naturalists said animals had sensed the approach of the wave and fled to high ground.
In Indonesia, thousands of troops have been drafted into the north-western province of Aceh to dig mass graves.
The BBC's Rachel Harvey in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, says that in the space of 20 minutes she counted 10 lorries filled with bodies arriving at one grave.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Click below to visit the websites of agencies carrying out relief work
International Red Cross
Medecins Sans Frontieres
Save The Children
UN World Food Programme
Crucial days ahead
One army battalion sent previously to the region to fight a rebel insurgency is said to have been wiped out.
There were still bodies lying in the rubble in some areas while survivors scavenged nearby for food, our correspondent says.
The first ship carrying emergency supplies is reported to have reached the worst hit Indonesian town of Meulaboh, where 10,000 are feared dead - 10% of the population.
A TV crew in the area said 80% of the west coast town was under water, while nearby Acehjaya is thought to be completely submerged.
Other reports say a 10-15km strip of coastline was flattened.
Relief workers and troops are only now reaching remoter areas of the coast.
And all over the province, there are reports of people hiding in the hills, too scared to come down to the coast.
Meanwhile in Thailand, thousands of tourists remain unaccounted for, and bodies are still being recovered from the wreckage of collapsed hotels on the Andaman Sea coast.
A BBC TV News Special on the disaster, including reports from BBC correspondents across the region, will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC World TV at 1930 GMT on Wednesday.
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