Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami Death Toll Hits 80,000

The scale of the devastation is overwhelming...

The latest death toll from the Asian tsunami has increased to more
than 80,000 as relief workers and supplies begin to reach some of the
most devastated areas. That number could top 100,000 by late today,
authorities lamented.
After officials were finally able to reach remote regions -- like
Indonesia's Aceh province, India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the
Maldives--the bad news was delivered.

More than half of the total deaths so far were in Indonesia, the
nearest land mass to Sunday's undersea 9.0 earthquake that created the
deadly waves that bombarded 12 different countries. In Sri Lanka,
authorities increased the death toll in that country to 23,015 after
every structure along the southern coast was damaged or swept away.
Sadly, UNICEF director Carol Bellamy said as many as one-third of the
victims may be children.

Internet sources I viewed show bodies decomposing, photographed and
fingerprinted before being taken to mass graves. There is also concern
over disease from corpses, forcing health officials in Sri Lanka to
order mass burials. "The requirement to properly dispose of dead
people through burial or some other method in a way that is
appropriate for the local tradition is surpassing "concerns of public
health," one native noted.

An International Monetary Fund official said that no one possibly could estimate the amount of destruction nor the cost of repairs at this point. The United States is offering a total of $35 million. The number of deaths from CNN sources in all affected countries now stands at 80,427. Close to $220 million in cash donations had been received or pledged so far for the relief effort. Thank God.

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