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Death toll now over 50,000 from Tsunami


I give up. This board is too hard to understand.
This is such a tragedy... my wife's cousin is in Thailand and we haven't heard any news on them yet. I don't think they we in this area so they should be OK.

Tsunami Waves Kill Over 22,000 in Asia
Aid Workers Rush to Areas Devastated by Tsunami Waves; Millions Homeless

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Dec. 27) -- Rescuers piled up bodies along southern Asian coastlines devastated by tidal waves that obliterated seaside towns and killed more than 22,000 people in 10 countries, and officials indicated Monday that the death toll could climb far higher.

Hundreds of children were buried in mass graves in India, and morgues and hospitals struggled to cope with the catastrophe. Somalia reported hundreds of deaths, some 3,000 miles away from the earthquake that sent tsunamis raging across the Indian Ocean.

The International Red Cross reported 23,700 deaths and expressed concern about waterborne diseases like malaria and cholera. Jan Egeland, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, said millions of people were effected - by lost homes, polluted drinking water, destroyed sanitation - and that the cost of the damage would ``probably be many billions of dollars.''

"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. Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have gone,'' he told reporters.

The count of the dead rose sharply a day after the magnitude 9 quake struck beneath the Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia - the most powerful earthquake in the world in four decades. Government and aid officials suggested the toll could jump even further, citing unconfirmed reports of thousands more deaths on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and on India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, areas closest to the quake's epicenter.

"Death came from the sea," said Satya Kumari, a construction worker living on the outskirts of the former French enclave of Pondicherry in India.

"The waves just kept chasing us. It swept away all our huts. What did we do to deserve this?"

Walls of water sped away from the epicenter at more than 500 mph before crashing into the region's shorelines, sweeping people and fishing villages out to sea. Millions were displaced from their homes and thousands remained missing Monday.

The governments of Indonesia and Thailand conceded that public warnings came too late or not at all. But officials insisted they could not know the seriousness of the threat because no tsunami warning system exists for the Indian Ocean.

Rescuers converged on beaches and islands throughout the region to search for survivors, and offers of aid poured in from around the globe, as troops in the region struggled to deliver urgently needed aid. Pakistan, India's nuclear-armed rival, offered assistance.

Chaos erupted at the airport in Phuket, Thailand, as hundreds of tourists, many wounded and weeping, tried to board planes.

Sri Lanka said more than 10,000 people were killed along its coastlines, and Tamil rebels said 2,000 people died in its territory, raising that country's toll to more than 12,000.

Indonesia reported about 5,000 deaths and India 4,000. Thailand - a Western tourist hotspot - said hundreds of people were dead and thousands more were missing. Deaths also were reported in Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Somalia. The Red Cross reported 6,000 deaths in India and three deaths in the Seychelles, part of its total of 23,700.

With communications still difficult with the areas closest to the epicenter, officials predicted more deaths there. Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the death toll on the island of Sumatra could climb to 10,000.

On the remote Car Nicobar island, an Indian territory 150 miles northwest of Sumatra, Police Chief S.B. Deol told New Delhi Television he had reports another 3,000 people may have died. If confirmed, that would raise India's toll to 7,000 and the overall number to 25,000.

"The Andaman and Nicobar islands have been really badly hit,'' said Hakan Sandbladh, senior health officer at the Geneva headquarters of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, noting that unconfirmed reports put the death toll at 13,000 on the islands.

A Somali presidential spokesman said an unknown number of people - but in the hundreds - died and entire villages disappeared on the African country's coastline. "All of the fishermen who went to sea (Sunday) haven't come back,'' Yusuf Ismail said.

In Bandah Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, 150 miles from the quake's epicenter, dozens of bloated bodies littered the streets as soldiers and desperate relatives searched for survivors. Some 500 bodies collected by emergency workers lay under plastic tents, rotting in the tropical heat.

"We have ordered 15,000 troops into the field to search for survivors,'' Indonesian military spokesman Edy Sulistiadi said. "They are mostly retrieving corpses.''

Unlike other areas, Bandah Aceh also suffered from the quake itself. The city's mall was reduced to a pile of rubble and its mosque was leaning precariously.

Refugees in nearby Lhokseumawe complained that little or no aid had reached them. The city's hospital said it was running out of medicine. Villagers near the town picked through the debris of their ruined houses amid the smell of decomposing bodies.

One man, Rajali, said his wife and two children were killed and he could not find dry ground to bury them to follow Islamic tradition. "What shall I do?'' said the 55-year-old man, who, like many Indonesians, goes by a single name. "I don't know where to bury my wife and children.''

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu reported thousands of deaths. Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa called the scene "an extraordinary calamity of such colossal proportions that the damage has been unprecedented.''

Nearby beaches resembled open-air mortuaries. In Cuddalore, red-eyed parents buried more than 150 children in a mass grave covered over by a bulldozer.

The tsunamis came without warning. Witnesses said sea waters at first retreated far out into the ocean, only to return at a vicious pace. Some regions reported a crashing wall of water 20 feet high.

"The water went back, back, back, so far away, and everyone wondered what it was - a full moon or what? Then we saw the wave come, and we ran,'' said Katri Seppanen, who was in Thailand, on Phuket island's popular Patong beach.

Sri Lanka and Indonesia said at least 1 million people were driven from their homes in each country. Warships in Thailand steamed to remote tropical island resorts to search for survivors as air force helicopters in Sri Lanka and India rushed food and medicine to stricken areas.

In Sri Lanka - an island nation some 1,000 miles west of the epicenter - about 25,000 troops were deployed to crack down on sporadic, small-scale looting and to help in rescue efforts. About 200 inmates escaped from a prison in coastal Matara.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake's magnitude was 9.0 - the strongest since a 9.2-magnitude temblor in Alaska in 1964 and the fourth-largest in a century.

The quake occurred more than 6 miles deep and has been followed by powerful aftershocks. A 620-mile section of a geological plate shifted, triggering the tsunamis.

Countries around the world had people among the dead. Britain reported 11 of its citizens had died; Norway 10; Sweden 9; Japan 9; Germany four; the United States and Denmark three.

Those numbers likely would rise. Sri Lanka said 72 foreign tourists were killed, and Thailand said 35 of the dead were foreigners.

President Bush expressed his condolences over the "terrible loss of life and suffering.'' From the Vatican, Pope John Paul II led appeals for aid.

Aid agencies and governments around the world began pouring relief supplies into the region Monday. Japan, China, Russia and Israel were among the countries sending teams of experts.

Jasmine Whitbread, international director of the aid group Oxfam, warned that without swift action more people would die from contaminated drinking water.

In Thailand, Gen. Chaisit Shinawatra, the army chief, said the United States has offered to send troops stationed on Japan's Okinawa island. Thailand was considering the offer.

Tsunamis as large as Sunday's happen only a few times a century. A tsunami is a series of traveling ocean waves generated by geological disturbances near the ocean floor. With nothing to stop them, the waves can race across the ocean like the crack of a bullwhip, gaining momentum over thousands of miles.

12-27-04 08:07 EST
my sister just returned from Thailand a few weeks ago. Bet she's counting her lucky stars.

Though I had asked her to stay away from the southern part of Thailand and am pretty sure she did on her travels. The southern part is all muslim, they want to be their own country. One of those places where Tourists just disappear.
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This is profoundly saddening.

The latest news reports are saying the death toll could double to more than 50,000. Unbelievable.

Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers (if you believe in that kind of thing).
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Saddest part is that much of the death was preventable!

From what I read in the paper today, USGS or NOAH had readings on the quake shortly after it happened and they tried to warn several of the neighboring countries of the high Tsunami danger but none of the effected countries had any warning system in place so they had to go through US embassies in the various countries. The two cent summary was that Phuket could have had warning of the tsunami 1-1 1/2 hours before the wave hit had there been a way to get the warning out! Unfortunately it took this disaster before the countries around the Indian Ocean develop a tsunami warning system similar to the one in place in the Pacific Rim countries.
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LoKY, I wish you and your wife's family the best.

I spent the summer of 2000 backpacking through Asia and spent the better part of it in south <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><ST1:pThailand</ST1:p</st1:country-region> where having your stuff stolen is a possibility, but kidnapping is highly unlikely. <st1:country-region w:st="on"><ST1:pIndonesia</ST1:p</st1:country-region> is where kidnapping is a reality, but is also a beautiful country and some of the best scuba diving in the world.

The way people live in these countries would amaze you. There were hundreds or thousands of people living in villages made of sheet metal. It isn't like these people could turn on the tv and drive away in their cars.

I can't help think about many of the locals I met on my travels and their likely unfortunate fate.

Again, hope everyone's love ones are OK.
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OSU Professor Killed in Sri Lanka Tsunami

<b>Family confirms death of Arlington couple </b>
<div class="date">Tuesday, December 28, 2004</div>
<div class="byline"> Charlie Roduta </div>
<div class="srcline">THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH </div>
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<img border="0" src="http://www.dispatch.com/2004/12/28/20041228-Pc-A4-0800.jpg"></img>
<tr><td class="cutline" width="200">Indirani Sundaralingam, left, and her husband, Muttaiya, victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami, were active in central Ohio’s Asian community. </td></tr>
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<img border="0" src="http://www.dispatch.com/2004/12/28/20041228-Pc-A4-0700.jpg"></img>

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<div class="body">
<p />For Upper Arlington residents Muttaiya Sundaralingam and his wife, Indirani, the vacation to Trincomalee in Sri Lanka gave them a break from Franklin County’s wintry conditions. <p />They also looked forward to seeing their native country after a cease-fire in February 2002 ended two decades of civil war. <p />But the dream vacation turned into a nightmare Sunday, when a tsunami rocked the coastal community where the Sundaralingams were visiting. <p />Early reports of the couple’s deaths had filtered to central Ohio’s Sri Lankan community, and yesterday Mohan Sundaralingam, of Upper Arlington, confirmed that his parents had been killed. <p />There are other Franklin County residents in similar situations, awaiting news from loved ones living in the Asian countries hit by the disaster. <p />"It’s frustrating,&quot; said Ranjan Manoranjan, president of central Ohio’s Sri Lankan Tamil Association. "Physically, we can’t do anything. All we can do is send a message that the community is coming together.&quot; <p />There are about 125 Sri Lankan families living in central Ohio, Manoranjan said. <p />"There are people that are worried about this and they haven’t had a chance to find out how their families are doing,&quot; said Andi Sie, who serves as a liaison to Columbus’ Indonesian community and is a member of the city’s annual Asian Festival. "They are all shocked with what happened.&quot; <p />Sie said he is thankful his parents’ home in Indonesia’s Java province was not struck by the giant waves. He has called them every five hours since Sunday to make sure the situation has not worsened. Sie estimates there are at least 800 Indonesians living in central Ohio. <p />Manju Sankarappa, president of the Asian Festival in Columbus, said the disaster has united the local Indian and Asian communities, who will spend this week looking for ways to help victims of the tsunami. <p />The Sundaralingams had left several weeks ago to vacation with their daughter and sonin-law, Sharmini and Shiva Shanker, of Upper Arlington. <p />The younger couple and their children weren’t injured because they were visiting the capital city of Colombo, on the western coast of the island nation, when the giant waves hit the eastern coast, Manoranjan said. <p />He said that his sister and her husband plan to bring their parents’ bodies back to central Ohio for services. <p />Mr. Sundaralingam, 73, was a quiet and intelligent man, said Manoranjan. He was a professor emeritus in chemistry with Ohio State University’s College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences and had been a U.S. citizen since 1964. <p />Mrs. Sundaralingam was 63. Her son described her as "a great mom, wife and grandmother.&quot; <p />The Sundaralingams also are survived by a son Rohan, of Chicago. <p /><p /><b>[email protected] </b><br />

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Here's the 'latest' (more or less...I guess). Anyway... I hate to steal from the 'other' Armageddon thread... but, talk about "The Scariest environment imaginable"

Tidal Waves Death Toll Rises to 40,000

By ANDI DJATMIKO, Associated Press Writer

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - The death toll from the epic tsunami that rocked 11 countries rose to 40,000 people Tuesday, and food and supplies poured into the region, part of what the U.N. said would be the biggest relief effort the world has ever seen. Millions remained homeless.

Rescuers struggled to reach remote locations where thousands more were likely killed by the deadliest tsunami in 120 years. Bodies, many of them children, filled beaches and choked hospital morgues, raising fears of disease across the region.

Sri Lanka raised its death toll past 18,700. Hundreds died when a train carrying 1,000 passengers from Colombo to Galle was thrown off its tracks by Sunday's waves, police chief B.T.B. Ariyapala said Tuesday.

The waves wrenched most of the train's cars into twisted metal, he said. The passengers were dead or missing; about 150 bodies had been recovered.

In Indonesia, the country closest to Sunday's 9.0 magnitude quake that sent walls of water crashing into coastlines thousands of miles away, the count rose to 15,000, a number the vice president said could rise.

Purnomo Sidik, the national disaster director, told The Associated Press the toll rose by almost 10,000 people after the government received reports from the previously unreachable western coast of Sumatra.

Some 4,400 died in India; 1,500 perished in Thailand. The Red Cross said malaria and cholera could add to the toll.

Desperate residents on Indonesia's Sumatra Island — 100 miles from the quake's epicenter — looted stores Tuesday. "There is no help, it is each person for themselves here," district official Tengku Zulkarnain told el-Shinta radio station.

The disaster could be the costliest in history, with "many billions of dollars" of damage, said U.N. Undersecretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination. Hundreds of thousands lost all they owned, he said.

In Galle, Sri Lanka, officials used a loudspeaker atop a fire engine to tell residents to place bodies on the road for collection. Muslim families used cooking utensils and even their bare hands to dig graves. Hindus in India, abandoning their tradition of burning bodies, held mass burials.

Soldiers and volunteers in Indonesia combed through destroyed houses to try to find survivors — or bodies. The toll in Thailand included at least 700 foreign tourists.

Stories of survival emerged amid the devastation.

A blond-haired 2-year-old found sitting alone on a road in Thailand and taken to a hospital was reunited with his uncle, who saw the boy's picture on the hospital's Web site.

"When I saw Hannes on the Internet, I booked an air ticket to come here in less than five hours," said a man who identified himself only as Jim. Hannes Bergstroem's mother died in the tsunami; his father was in another hospital, the Swedish paper Aftonbladet reported.

In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found floating on a mattress soon after the waves hit Sunday. She and her family were reunited.

But the geographic scope of the disaster was unparalleled. Relief organizations used to dealing with a centralized crisis had to distribute resources over 11 countries on two continents.

Helicopters in India rushed medicine to stricken areas. In Sri Lanka, the Health Ministry dispatched 300 physicians to the disaster zone by helicopter.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said the United States was sending helicopters. An airborne surgical hospital from Finland arrived, and a German aircraft was en route with a water purification plant.

UNICEF (news - web sites) officials said about 175 tons of rice arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and six tons of medical supplies were to arrive by Thursday. But most basic supplies were scarce.

A new danger emerged Tuesday: UNICEF said uprooted land mines in Sri Lanka threatened to kill or maim aid workers and survivors. "Mines were ... washed out of known mine fields, so now we don't know where they are," said Ted Chaiban, the Sri Lanka chief of UNICEF.

Scores of people were also killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Maldives. Deaths were even reported in Africa — in Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles, close to 3,000 miles away.

On the remote Indian islands of Andaman and Nicobar, off the northern tip of Sumatra, officials still hadn't established communications. An estimated 3,000 deaths there were not counted in the official toll.

It was the deadliest known tsunami since the one caused by the 1883 volcanic eruption at Krakatoa — located off Sumatra's southern tip — which killed an estimated 36,000 people.

Many of the dead and missing were children — as many as half the victims in Sri Lanka.

"Where are my children?" asked 41-year-old Absah, as she searched for her 11 youngsters in Banda Aceh, the city closest to Sunday's epicenter. "Where are they? Why did this happen to me? I've lost everything."

The streets in Banda Aceh were filled with overturned cars and rotting corpses. Shopping malls and office buildings lay in rubble, and thousands of homeless families huddled in mosques and schools.

Relatives wandered hallways lined with bodies at the hospital in Sri Lanka's southern town of Galle, a stunned hush broken only by wails of mourning.

Momentum grew to create a tsunami warning system like the one that guards Pacific coasts. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia would push for its creation.

"I know it looks like a bit like closing the door after the horse has bolted," Downer said Tuesday. But he said he hoped such a system would save lives in the future.

The United States dispatched disaster teams and prepared a $15 million aid package. Japan pledged $30 million and Australia $8 million.

Indonesia's Aceh province exemplified the challenge to aid workers. The government until Monday barred foreigners because of a separatist conflict. Communications lines were still down and remote villages had yet to be reached.

"There is not anyone to bury the bodies," said Steve Aswin, a UNICEF official in Jakarta. "They should be buried in mass graves but there is no one to dig graves."

Sri Lankan police waived the law calling for mandatory autopsies, allowing rotting corpses to be buried immediately. "We accept that the deaths were caused by drowning," police spokesman Rienzie Perera said.

India on Tuesday said a nuclear power plant damaged by tidal waves was safe and that there was no threat of radiation.
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Thanks Dixie.... no word on them yet but we think they were out of harms way. Her cousin is from Vegas but his wife is from Thailand. They were over there helping her family build a house.
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RugbyBuck said:
I can't even begin to imagine losing my kids like that. Life simply wouldn't be worth living.

I agree with you 100%.... seeing the pictures of the parents holding their dead children is hart breaking. I think I'll give my kids an extra big hug when they get up from their nap.
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My wife has always said if something happens to our boys I might as well put her in an asylum. My prayers go out to those people lost and those who will be trying to recover, some maybe for a lifetime.

Interesting article on the model and her boyfried. Here is a link and also a small snippet.

"People were screaming and kids were screaming all over the place, screaming, 'Help, help.' And after a few minutes, you didn't hear the kids anymore."

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LoKyBuckeye said:
more information keeps coming in from the islands in the area of the Tsunami... the death toll is now over 50K. WOW!
Perspective -- Its like having the population of a town the size of Mentor, Middletown or Euclid get swallowed up by the ocean.

Its time for prayers and donations my friends.

Hope the US Gov also takes this opportunity to show what it can do to help.
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Latest "Round Up" and thena geological assessment... I don't mean to draw attention away from the human tragedy, but I think the article at teh bottom might help us to appreciate the forces at play here.

Race to Bury Asia's Dead as Toll Hits 63,000

Tue Dec 28, 8:41 PM ET Top Stories - Reuters

By David Fox

GALLE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Stricken countries on the Indian Ocean worked swiftly on Wednesday to bury thousands of bodies as experts warned disease could kill as many people as the 63,000 already dead from the violent crush of Sunday's tsunami.

While rescuers ventured into outlying areas cut off for three days since what was possibly the deadliest tsunami in more than 200 years, the United Nations (news - web sites) mobilized what it called the biggest relief operation in its history.

The ocean surge was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, spreading in an arc of death across the Indian Ocean and striking nations from Indonesia to Sri Lanka, and beyond across to Africa.

U.S. scientists said the quake that set off the killer wall of water permanently moved tectonic plates beneath the Indian Ocean as much as 98 feet, slightly shifting islands near Sumatra.

Survivors told harrowing tales of the moment the tsunami, up to 33 feet high, struck towns and resorts, sucking holidaymakers off beaches into the ocean, smashing people and debris through buildings, leaving more than 63,000 dead and thousands more missing and injured.

UNICEF (news - web sites) executive director Carol Bellamy said children could account for up to a third of the dead.

One of the worst-hit areas of southern Thailand was Khao Lak, a resort beach on the mainland north of Phuket island, where hundreds of bodies have already been discovered and hundreds more are still missing.

"Rescuers are holding their breath while using their bare hands, axes, or shovels to dig through piles of wrecked buildings and debris at Khao Lak," said senior Thai provincial official Chailert Piyorattanachote.

In a further threat to the region, disease could kill as many people as those killed by the wall of water, a top World Health Organization (news - web sites) (WHO) official said.

"There is certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami," the WHO's Dr David Nabarro told a news conference.

Gerhard Berz, a top risk researcher at Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurer, estimated the economic cost of the devastation at more than $13 billion.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites), rejecting comments from a top U.N. official that rich countries were being "stingy," said the international community may have to give billions of dollars in aid.

The United States more than doubled its pledge to $35 million.


Of the overall death toll so far, Indonesia has suffered the biggest number of victims, with 27,174 known to be dead.

Nearly all the deaths in Indonesia were in the northwestern province of Aceh at the tip of Sumatra. Rescue crews were still trying to reach cut-off areas. Separatist rebels announced a truce while people search for loved ones.

The stench of decomposing corpses spread over the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, where fresh water, food and fuel were in short supply. Bodies lay scattered in the streets.

One of the worst hit cities was Meulaboh, about 90 miles from the quake's epicenter. The mayor, Tengku Zulkarnaen, said three-quarters of his city had been washed away.

In Sri Lanka, where nearly 22,000 were dead, hundreds of people were killed when a wave crashed into a train traveling to Galle from Colombo, wrecking carriages and uprooting the track it was traveling on. The train was called "Sea Queen."

Rescue teams headed out to the last of India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands that have been cut off since Sunday.

India's toll of nearly 12,500 included at least 7,000 on the islands which are closer to Myanmar and Indonesia than to the Indian mainland. On one island, the surge of water killed two-thirds of the population.

"One in every five inhabitants in the entire Nicobar group of islands is either dead, injured or missing," a police official said.

In Thailand, where thousands of tourists were enjoying a Christmas break to escape the northern winter, many of the country's paradise resorts were turned into graveyards.

In a French-run hotel at Khao Lak, up to half the 415 guests were believed killed. A reporter from France's Europe 1 radio said many bodies had been found in their rooms.

Some 136 foreign nationals and tourists were confirmed dead and 2,689 were still missing. Some 1,500 Swedes and 800 Norwegians were still unaccounted for. Thailand's official toll was 1,538 dead.

Hundreds of people were killed in the Maldives, Myanmar and Malaysia. The arc of water struck as far away as Somalia and Kenya. Fishing villages, ports and resorts were devastated, power and communications cut and homes destroyed.


The tremor, the biggest in 40 years, ripped a chasm in the sea bed which set off the tsunami, perhaps the deadliest for hundreds of years.

A tsunami at Krakatoa, off southern Sumatra, in 1883 killed 36,000 and one in the South China Sea in 1782 killed 40,000, according to the U.S. National Geophysical Data Center.

On Thailand's Phuket island, foreign tourists pored over names on hospital lists and peered at scores of hospital photos of swollen, unidentified bodies.

Relief teams and rescuers flew into the region from around the globe. More than 20 countries have pledged emergency aid worth more than $60 million. (For more news about emergency relief visit Reuters AlertNet http://www.alertnet.org email: [email protected]; +44 207 542 24 32)

U.S. Scientists Say Quake Movement Shifted Islands

Tue Dec 28, 4:21 PM ET Science - Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The massive earthquake that devastated parts of Asia permanently moved the tectonic plates beneath the Indian Ocean as much as 98 feet, slightly shifting islands near Sumatra an unknown distance, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

A tsunami spawned by the 9.0-magnitude quake off the northern tip of Sumatra killed an estimated 60,000 on Sunday in Indonesia, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and East Africa.

Satellite images showed that the movement of undersea plates off the northern tip of Sumatra moved the Nicobar Islands and Simeulue Island out to sea by an unknown distance, U.S. Geological Survey (news - web sites) geophysicist Ken Hudnut said.

Although the data showed that plates more than 12 miles beneath the ocean's surface moved dramatically, scientists will have to use handheld satellite positioning systems at the sites to learn precisely how much the land masses on the surface shifted, Hudnut said.

The USGS (news - web sites) team in Pasadena, California, also was studying more detailed satellite images on Tuesday to determine if the scraping of one plate over another plowed up enough debris on the ocean floor to block the port of Banda Aceh in Sumatra where international aid was headed.

Large earthquakes in the last decade in Kobe, Japan, and Golcuk, Turkey, deformed the coastlines and rendered their ports inoperable after the crises, Hudnut said.

The scientists have asked for cooperation from operators of commercial satellites that can provide high-resolution images to show the extent of damage to coastlines, he said.
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