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Toll hit's 26,000, 8 Americans dead JAKARTA - The human toll from the earthquake-spawned tsunamis that swamped an epic swath of South Asia climbed to 26,000 dead yesterday, and with tens of thousands still missing is bound to soar even higher. At least eight Americans were killed and hundreds of other Yanks remain unaccounted for in the region, the State Department said.
Rescue workers frantically picked through the wreckage of $1,000-a-night luxury resorts as well as washed-out fishing villages where families scrape by on a dollar a day. "Our paradise turned into hell," said U.S. tourist Moira Lee, 28, on Thailand's Phuket island, a popular beach resort inundated by Sunday's tidal wave.
The wall of water, spurred by a subocean magnitude-9.0 earthquake, traveled across five time zones and slammed into 10 countries; hardest hit were Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. Officials predict the final death count in those countries to exceed 50,000. Aid groups raced to put together what is expected to be one of the biggest relief efforts in human history.
With the water receding and bodies washing up like rag dolls on thousands of coastlines, the threat now is disease from contaminated drinking water and rotting corpses. "It smells so bad. The human bodies are mixed in with dead animals like dogs, fish, cats and goats," said Col. Buyung Lelana in Indonesia's Aceh Province, where armed rebels called an unconditional ceasefire amid the devastation.
Health experts say outbreaks of cholera and dysentery could easily claim more victims than the tidal waves themselves. The warnings came as planes packed with rescue personnel and medical supplies started heading to the region from Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.
The UN put initial damages in the range of "many billions of dollars" and predicted the rescue efforts would stretch on for months or years. More than a million people were left homeless and hundreds of thousands had their livelihoods destroyed. "This was the worst day in our history," said local businessman Y.P. Wickramsinghe in Galle, Sri Lanka, picking through the rubble of his dive shop. "I wish I had died. There is no point in living any more," he sobbed as he surveyed the twisted wreckage of buses, toppled buildings and the debris of people's everyday lives.
"We cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages and so on that have just been wiped out," said Jan Egeland, the UN emergency relief coordinator. "But the effects may be the biggest ever because many more people live in exposed areas than ever before" because of the population explosion in countries around the Indian Ocean during the past 50 years, he added.
Secretary of State Powell pledged an initial U.S. contribution of $15 million and vowed to do whatever is necessary. As governments tried to cope with the disaster, families torn apart by the tidal wave of death desperately searched for missing relatives, hoping for the best but more often finding the worst. The calamity was especially cruel to children, many of whom had run laughing to the shore to watch the waves only to be swept away. In a scene repeated over and over, the father of one boy broke down when he saw his young son's body on a morgue slab in Cuddalore, India.
"My son, my king!" he wailed, hugging the shrouded bundle. Thousands of miles away in Indonesia, farmer Yusya Yusman aimlessly searched the beaches for his two children. "My life is over," he said emotionlessly. And in an eerie reminder of the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, desperate survivors clutched snapshots of missing relatives and posted pleas for help on billboards.



Posted in Earthquake @ 28 December 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

indahnesia.com lists all earthquakes that occur in Indonesia. For your convenience we display them in a list and a Google Map. It is as accurate and recent as you can imagine as we check for updates every few minutes. If an earthquake occurs in Indonesia, this is the place to check it out in the first place.






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