U.S. Water News Online
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- Pilots dropped food to Indonesian
villagers stranded among bloating corpses, while police in a
devastated provincial capital stripped looters of their clothing and
forced them to sit on the street as a warning to others. The death
toll topped 150,000, and officials warned that five million people
lack clean water, shelter, food, sanitation and medicine.
As a colossal international rescue effort struggled off the
ground, relief efforts suffered a hitch when a false alarm of more
killer waves sparked panic in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand and sent
survivors and aid workers fleeing.
Indian women at a makeshift camp in a marriage hall said their
children were going hungry. "For the past few days we were at least
getting food," said Selvi, 35, who uses one name. "Today, we didn't
even get that because aid workers fled the town after a fresh alert
was issued this morning."
The false alarm from the Indian government was just one of the new
and sometimes unexpected threats facing survivors.
Sister Charity, a 32-year-old nun rescued by an Indian navy ship
from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said confused and hungry
crocodiles were on the loose.
"As we were returning [to the ship], two or three crocodiles
started coming toward us. The navy officers had to fire their
revolvers to ward off the crocodiles to protect us," she told The
In the remote Indian islands near the epicentre of the
magnitude-9.0 earthquake, entire villages were wiped out. With only
400 bodies found so far, the region's administrator said 10,000
people were missing. Survivors who reached the archipelago's main
city, Port Blair, said they had not eaten for two days.
Around the Indian Rim and beyond, families endured their fifth day
of ignorance as to the fate of friends and relatives who had taken a
holiday-season vacation to the sunny beaches of Thailand, India and
Sri Lanka, which bore the brunt of the tsunami. Thousands were still
missing, including at least 2,500 Swedes, more than 1,000 Germans and
500 each from France and Denmark.
At least four Canadians were among the dead -- three in Thailand
and one in Sri Lanka, Foreign Affairs Canada said. There are still 13
Canadians officially missing and another 74 are unaccounted for.
Ottawa, meanwhile, announced a moratorium on debt for countries
affected by the tsunamis.
Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said the moratorium will
be in effect as the area rebuilds.
Indonesia owes the most, at $588-million (Canadian), or about
Canada has so far allocated $40 million (Canadian), or $33-million
(U.S.), to the aid effort, and is working primarily through
humanitarian organizations such as World Vision and Doctors Without
Borders. Ottawa has also sent planeloads of relief supplies.
Governments have so far donated some $500-million (U.S.), United
Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said, adding that he was
"satisfied" by the response.
Death tolls across the region continued to grow. Indonesia led
with some 94,000. Sri Lanka reported 30,000, India more than 15,000
and Thailand around 2,400. A total of more than 300 were killed in
Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and
Military ships and planes rushed aid to Sumatra's ravaged coast.
Countless corpses strewn on the streets rotted under the tropical sun
causing a nearly unbearable stench.
In Banda Aceh, the devastated main city of northern Sumatra,
soldiers and police guarded abandoned shops in the city's market amid
fears of looting. Three alleged looters caught by police were put on
the street stripped to their underpants as a deterrent.
Food drops began along the coast, mostly of instant noodles and
medicines, with some of the areas "hard to reach because they are
surrounded by cliffs," said Budi Aditutro, head of the government's
In Galle, the graceful old city on the southern tip of Sri Lanka,
German and Finnish teams helped set up water plants and mobile
In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush announced that a
delegation of experts led by Secretary of State Colin Powell will
travel to Asia to assess the situation.
A U.S. air force plane arrived in the capital, Colombo, bringing
26 medical specialists from the army, marines and air force, which
form part of the Pacific Fleet Command.
American planes already have delivered 1,400 body bags to southern
islands in Thailand, where Interior Minister Bhokin Balakula said
more than 3,500 bodies have been found. Rescue and forensic teams
from Australia, Japan, Germany, Israel and other countries fanned out
across Thailand trying to find survivors and identify rapidly
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