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Food airlifted to isolated towns
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 not knowing 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.
The U.S. death toll was officially raised from 12 to 14, with seven dead in Thailand and seven in Sri Lanka.
About 600 Americans who were listed as missing have been found, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, but several thousand had not been located four days after the disaster struck.
Death tolls across the region continued to grow. Indonesia led with about 80,000. Sri Lanka reported 27,200, India more than 7,300 and Thailand about 2,400. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Burma, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya and Seychelles. Madagascar also was hit.
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.
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 relief team.
Pledges of U.S. assistance remained at $35 million, dwarfed on paper by amounts promised by many European countries.
But separate Pentagon operations, for which no cost estimates were available, expanded by the hour.
The relief included the arrival of four C-130 cargo planes in Thailand loaded with food, water and sheltering material, and a large supply of rice and other food and assistance was due to arrive in Indonesia by today, a senior U.S. official said.
The United States, India, Australia, Japan and the United Nations have formed an international coalition to coordinate worldwide relief and reconstruction efforts.
In Galle, the graceful old city on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, German and Finnish teams helped set up water plants and mobile clinics.
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.
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