Tsunami Death Toll Rises as Indonesian Casualties Increase

January 7, 2005

As U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan toured the devastation on tsunami-battered Sumatra island Friday, officials raised the Indonesian death toll by 7,000. The added deaths brought the total killed in the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunamis in several countries to more than 147,000. Annan told reporters he had never witnessed such devastation before.

Hardest hit was Sumatra, which was nearest to the epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude quake, and where officials on Friday counted about 7,000 additional bodies — mostly in Meulaboh, which had been isolated by washed-out roads — increasing Indonesia’s toll to 101,318.

India’s death toll also jumped to 10,001 Friday after officials reported recovery of 301 bodies in the isolated Andaman and Nicobar islands and nine others on India’s southern coast.

Tourists from a number of countries remain unaccounted for. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who visited the Thai holiday destination of Phuket on Friday, also noted that 391 missing Britons were presumed dead. Forty-nine Britons have been confirmed dead to date.

As of Thursday, 36 Americans were reported dead, with many still not accounted for.

With tens of thousands still missing and threatened by disease from the powerful waves that roared into 11 nations, the United Nations said the death toll would continue to grow.

Annan’s visit followed his attendance at a summit of world leaders in Jakarta on Thursday on how to transfer one of history’s largest-ever aid packages — nearly $4 billion in pledges — into food for the hungry and shelter for the homeless.

Secretary of State Colin Powell was in Sri Lanka, where more than 30,000 people died, to tour tsunami-devastated areas in the south and hold discussions on relief efforts.

In Thailand, while some areas remain devastated two weeks later, other resorts continue the cleanup in hopes of getting their businesses back up and running.

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