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Disaster in SE asia


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Blair says UK tsunami aid to soar

Tony Blair has predicted the British Government will eventually give "hundreds of millions" of pounds in aid to countries hit by the tsunami.

The prime minister was speaking publicly for the first time since returning from his holiday in Egypt.

Mr Blair insisted he had been "intimately involved" in "all decisions at all times" despite being abroad.

He was speaking before the UK joins a three-minute silence at noon across the EU for the estimated 150,000 dead.

'Solidarity'

The Foreign Office says 41 Britons are now confirmed to have died in the Tsunami which struck south Asia on Boxing Day, with 158 others missing.

Asked about criticism that he did not cut short his holiday, Mr Blair told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I don't think this is a situation in which the British people need me to articulate what they feel.

"I think they feel - as we all do - shock, horror, and absolute solidarity with those people who have lost their lives."

The important thing was action and not words, he said, adding that of the £50m given by the government so far only "six or seven million" had been spent.

It would become easier in the coming weeks to assess just how much money would have to be put in.

"My estimate is we will need to spend from government several hundred million pounds. So we will far and away more than match the generosity of the British people," he said.

Asked whether he had not returned to work immediately because he was under doctors orders to rest, Mr Blair said there was also a story he had been away for plastic surgery.

"As you can see unfortunately I am still looking the same as I always did," he joked.

Freezing debt

The prime minister took personal charge of the UK's response on Tuesday, chairing a meeting of the emergency committee of ministers that has convened daily since Boxing Day.

He also spoke on the telephone to US President George Bush, and the presidents of Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Chancellor Gordon Brown earlier backed a plan to freeze the foreign debts of all the affected nations.

Mr Brown, who was not at the Downing Street meeting, says he has been in "intensive talks" with other G8 finance ministers.

Germany proposed a freeze last week and Canada has begun its own moratorium.

The chancellor said the plan would initially save the most affected countries about $3bn (£1.58bn) in repayments.

Tory leader Michael Howard also backed the proposals but said ministers had been "playing catch-up" with public donations.

Ministerial visits

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is to visit Thailand and Indonesia this week.

During his trip, Mr Straw will represent the G8 at the international conference called in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday.

On Friday, he will visit the Thai beach resort of Phuket, where British families are still searching for relatives.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn will also visit Aceh in Indonesia, as well as Sri Lanka.

The British public has now pledged £76m in aid with emergency supplies from the British government starting to arrive in the region on three RAF flights in a joint operation with Scandinavian countries.

Two ships - the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Diligence and frigate HMS Chatham - have arrived in the disaster area. A second Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel, the Bayleaf, is also being sent.

UK charities have also begun chartering planes to deliver aid.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_p...ics/4147861.stm

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Aid plea for 'tsunami generation'

The United Nations children's agency, Unicef, has urged the international community to prioritise youngsters made orphans by the tsunami disaster.

Unicef head Carol Bellamy made the plea ahead of a donors' meeting on Thursday.

As many as 50,000 children were killed, and more than a million have been hurt or lost families in the disaster.

Ms Bellamy was speaking as US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Aceh province in Indonesia, the worst-hit area, to see the damage for himself.

Mr Powell - who is to attend Thursday's conference on the relief effort in the capital, Jakarta - said humanitarian relief was part of "American values".

Indonesia is his last stop in his tour of countries hit by the sea surges.

In other developments:

Tsunami survivors in India's Andaman and Nicobar islands say crocodiles searching for food have become a menace

Shops re-open in villages in eastern Sri Lanka for the first time since the waves hit on 26 December

The first six bodies of 52 Swedish tourists killed in the tsunami arrive in Stockholm from Thailand. A further 827 Swedes are still missing

The European Union is to observe a three-minute silence at midday on Wednesday to honour the victims

The US military says it may well double the number of helicopters it has deployed to Asia to help with the relief efforts.

Exploitation fear

Unicef said it had identified four priorities the Jakarta meeting must take on board to help what it calls the "tsunami generation" of children.

They include ensuring children get clean sanitation, water and nutrition; caring for, identifying and trying to reunite those separated from families; protecting them from exploitation; and ensuring they get back to school as quickly as possible.

"I'm not satisfied that the global relief effort is focused enough on the more than 1.5 million children made vulnerable by this calamity," said Ms Bellamy.

Earlier, the Indonesian government banned children from leaving the devastated province of Aceh after Unicef warned that child traffickers could be trying to exploit the situation.

The ban was set to stay in place until a clearer picture emerged of the status of the tens of thousands of children separated from their families, the UN agency said.

And in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, a Save the Children Fund worker told the BBC of concerns that children were being taken away from relief centres by strangers.

Swedish police are already in Thailand investigating reports that a 12-year-old Swedish survivor of the tsunami was kidnapped from a hospital in the chaotic aftermath.

"It's been over a week and every passing day is now critical," said Ms Bellamy. "All of us have to focus on these priorities for saving children, and we have to do it now."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and senior politicians from around the world are making their way to the Jakarta conference.

Donors will focus on coordinating the massive aid and recovery efforts, and are also likely to consider establishing a tsunami alert system for the Indian Ocean region.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...fic/4147669.stm

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i very much doubt we have pledged 500 million us

Australia has actually donated one BILLION!!!

They got it from their 2.4 billion buget surplus, i'm guessing

Aid agencies welcome $1b tsunami package

11:45 AEDT Thu Jan 6 2005

Aid agencies heaped praise on the federal government for its $1 billion aid package to help Indonesia rebuild after the Boxing Day tsunami.

The package is the largest single aid donation in Australia's history and will focus on rebuilding in the province of Aceh, which was hardest hit.

here

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Australia has actually donated one BILLION!!!

They got it from their 2.4 billion buget surplus, i'm guessing

Is that a billion US or Austrilian dollars?

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Is that a billion US or Austrilian dollars?

438790[/snapback]

AU, Pete Repeat tongue.gif

Which is...$763,708,897.84 American.

Regardless, it's an astronomical amount for a single, draught wrought country to offer.

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ohhh thats allot of cash:)

i wonder if thats come out of the aid budget (i'm assuming thats what they do, allocate a certain amount to foreign aid), hopefully now the Indonesian government will be a little more cooperative in taking out jemhar islamer (horrid spelling)

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hopefully now the Indonesian government will be a little more cooperative in taking out jemhar islamer (horrid spelling)

Yeah, i wouldn't be suprised if that was PARTLY a diplomacy manoeuver. Two birds with one stone tongue.gif

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Indonesian and Australian ties were extremely good before this disaster...so I doubt it's political.

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441 Britons feared dead in quake

Around 440 Britons are either dead or missing in the Asian tsunami disaster, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

Mr Straw told a news conference in Thailand 49 Britons had been confirmed dead plus 391 unaccounted for. One more death was announced later.

The confirmed dead included 37 Britons in Thailand, 10 in Sri Lanka and three in the Maldives.

Back in Britain Cherie Blair said the public's donations had been "fantastic", while Princes William and Harry have carried out volunteer work.

In Thailand the foreign secretary said the anxiety of relatives of the missing would be prolonged because of the scale of the task to identify bodies.

Mr Straw said experts from more than 30 countries were involved in one of the biggest international forensic operations ever mounted to identify victims.

'Long uncertainty'

"The agony of long uncertainty for many families and the scale of the effort still required is truly daunting," Mr Straw said.

British forensic experts involved in previous incidents such as Lockerbie and the Bali bombing had stressed the size of the job, he said.

"There are many hundreds of dead in the mortuary areas. It is impossible to tell the country of origin of most of those poor people."

Meanwhile Cherie Blair - the prime minister's wife - praised the British public's response to the disaster during a visit to a Save the Children charity shop on Friday.

Speaking at the shop in Clapham, south London, where she donated bags full of toys, she said: "The response has been fantastic. I would urge the public to continue to donate."

It also emerged on Friday that Princes William and Harry have been working as volunteers in a Gloucestershire warehouse sending aid to tsunami victims.

Mr Straw, who has been meeting the families of British victims on the island of Phuket, added that many unidentified victims were still being found.

"In the past two days more than 500 victims of currently unknown nationality have arrived for examination, " he said.

The foreign secretary said as well as the Britons confirmed dead, 391 people are now listed by the Metropolitan Police as "likely or very likely to have been involved as victims."

"That is, for example, that there is an eyewitness account of them in the water or a damaged building; an eyewitness knows that they were in the immediate area and they have not been seen since", he said.

If it is confirmed the Asian tsunami has claimed the lives of 440 Britons, it will be the highest British death toll since the end of World War II.

Officials in Thailand said China had offered the use of its laboratories for DNA testing and the first samples from the remains of unidentified victims would be sent there later on Friday.

EU talks

US Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are travelling to Sri Lanka to witness the impact of the disaster there.

In Brussels, European foreign ministers are to meet to discuss how the £1bn in aid pledged by the EU should be spent.

The meeting, which also includes EU aid and health ministers, will focus on planning long-term reconstruction for the affected countries.

Most of the emergency aid provided so far by the European Union and European Commission has been spent on food and water, clothing and shelter to survivors.

More than 140,000 people are now known to have died in the Asian tsunami disaster, and hundreds of thousands more are homeless.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4153741.stm

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I notice all of them own a billion up. God and the richest scum like Bill Gates siting their with 43 billion. He could fund this himself the evil b*stard. What the hell do they do with money like that other than let others starve?

Actually Bill Gates is from all accounts the largest individual giver to charity in the world. An example:

$1 billion over 20 years to establish the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, which will support promising minority students through college and some kinds of graduate school.

$750 million over five years to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, which includes the World Health Organization, the Rockefeller Foundation, Unicef, pharmaceutical companies and the World Bank.

$350 million over three years to teachers, administrators, school districts and schools to improve America’s K-12 education, starting in Washington State.

$200 million to the Gates Library Program, which is wiring public libraries in America’s poorest communities in an effort to close the “digital divide.”

$100 million to the Gates Children’s Vaccine Program, which will accelerate delivery of lifesaving vaccines to children in the poorest countries of the world.

$50 million to the Maternal Mortality Reduction Program, run by the Columbia University School of Public Health.

$50 million to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, to conduct research on promising candidates for a malaria vaccine.

$50 million to an international group called the Alliance for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer.

$50 million to a fund for global polio eradication, led by the World Health Organization, Unicef, Rotary International and the U.N. Foundation.

$40 million to the International Vaccine Institute, a research program based in Seoul, South Korea.

$28 million to Unicef for the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus.

$25 million to the Sequella Global Tuberculosis Foundation.

$25 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, which is creating coalitions of research scientists, pharmaceutical companies and governments in developing countries to look for a safe, effective, widely accessible vaccine against AIDS.

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Tsunami deaths soar past 212,000

Wednesday, January 19, 2005 Posted: 10:34 AM EST (1534 GMT)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- The Indonesian Health Ministry said Wednesday that the December 26 earthquake and tsunami killed 166,320 people in Indonesia, jumping the regional death toll for the disaster to 212,611.

The Health Ministry said 6,245 people were still missing.

Dodi Indrasanto, a director at the health ministry's department of health affairs, told Reuters that the new death total reflected the latest reports from the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, which were directly in the path of the killer tsunami spawned by a magnitude 9 earthquake the day after Christmas.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, speaking before the health ministry released its latest figures, told a donors conference in Jakarta that the true extent of the catastrophe defied description.

"Perhaps we will never know the exact scale of the human casualties," he said.

Meanwhile in Japan, the U.N. head of emergency relief warned that natural disaster in any of the world's largest cities could set off a catastrophe that could be 100 times worse than the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Speaking on the first day of a disaster prevention conference in the Japanese city of Kobe, Jan Egeland, the U.N. Director of Disaster Relief, said many of the world's megacities, including Tokyo, are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters.

"Perhaps the most frightening prospect would be to have a truly megadisaster in a megacity," he told delegates from 150 nations Tuesday in Kobe, where an earthquake killed nearly 6,500 people a decade ago.

"Then we could have not only a tsunami-style casualty rate as we have seen late last year, but we could see one hundred times that in a worst case."

Megacities are densely concentrated cities, with a population of 10 million or more, and Egeland said time is running short for some of the largest cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The five most populated cities in the world are the greater Tokyo area with 35.3 million people, Mexico City with 19 million, New York-Newark with 18.5 million and Bombay and Sao Paulo both with a population of 18.3 million, U.N. figures show.

The five-day conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kobe quake is also aiming to draw lessons from last month's quake and tsunamis.

Key to the meeting is laying the foundation for an Indian Ocean tsunami early warning system, similar to one set up in the Pacific.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has proposed a system in the Indian Ocean -- including offshore detection buoys and a communications center -- that would cost $30 million and go into operation by mid-2006.

Experts say well-placed breakwaters, quake-proof seawalls, detailed hazard maps showing danger areas and well-defined evacuation routes and shelters are also needed, according to The Associated Press.

In Tamil Nadu, the Indian state hit hardest by the tsunamis, more than 8,000 people died. Most of the victims lived along the state's lengthy coastline, and state officials are looking at ways to prevent natural disasters from exacting such a heavy toll in the future.

While deep-sea tsunami sensors and solid sea walls were among the proposals discussed, forest officials have suggested a simpler and cheaper alternative.

India's state government is now planning to plant 3 billion casuarina, coconut and cashew saplings along the entire coast after discovering that villages that survived were protected by forest cover.

The United Nations is also calling for the world's children to be educated in disaster reduction and prevention in the next 10 years.

Three weeks on

As experts talk about how to protect cities and nations against natural disasters, relief workers and militaries are trying to help the survivors and help rebuild communities three weeks after the tsunami struck.

A U.N. travel ban on aid workers in parts of the Indonesian province of Aceh has been lifted.

The United Nations had imposed a 24-hour ban on staff travel to specific regions because of security fears following reports of fighting between government forces and rebels in Aceh.

Indonesia's defense minister said the military is sending 5,000 more soldiers to the region to help with reconstruction efforts.

Sri Lanka is launching an extremely ambitious plan to rebuild parts of the country wiped out in the tsunami disaster.

By some estimates, almost two-thirds of Sri Lanka's coastal region was destroyed, including hundreds of thousands of homes.

The so-called "Rebuilding Nation" program is expected to cost $3.5 billion. It includes plans for constructing new townships, replanning transportation networks, and improving telecommunications infrastructure.

Source: CNN.com

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212,000 and still climbing. crying.gif

I was reading that it is possible that there are thousands of people that may never be listed in the fatalaties as entire generations of a single family may have been swept out to sea; with no bodies and no one to report them missing they may go without being reported.

In many of the more rural communities there were just no record keeping to be able to refer to...

It is hard to imagine that entire families could just get swept to sea and not be remembered or mourned...it is just really sad...

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212,000 and still climbing. crying.gif

I was reading that it is possible that there are thousands of people that may never be listed in the fatalaties as entire generations of a single family may have been swept out to sea; with no bodies and no one to report them missing they may go without being reported.

In many of the more rural communities there were just no record keeping to be able to refer to...

It is hard to imagine that entire families could just get swept to sea and not be remembered or mourned...it is just really sad...

456711[/snapback]

I would assume it is entirely possible that entire villages that kept no records will never be counted in the total loss of life. Which IMO is a shame. It's bad enough to have died, but not to have any record of your life is an equal tragedy

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