Aid begins to reach tsunami survivors

Aid has begun trickling through to survivors across the earthquake and tsunami-battered Indian Ocean, but tons of emergency supplies continued to pile up at some overstretched airports as the death toll continued its inexorable rise.

Indonesia said that more than 100,000 of its citizens had probably died – sending the disaster death toll soaring to more than 140,000.

The multi-million pound international relief effort was making headway, as the first of many C-130 cargo planes and warships reached its destination with tons of blankets, bottled water, plastic sheeting and medicines.

In Sri Lanka, a convoy of five trucks from the UN World Food Programme began distributing more than 100 tons of sugar, lentils and rice in the Tamil rebel-controlled north, where more than 80,000 survivors of Sunday’s tsunami were hastily settling into camps.

A Thai navy air base used by US B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War is turning into the hub for the US military-led relief effort for Sri Lanka and India, while a American aircraft carrier battle group from Hong Kong was expected to reach Indonesia’s Sumatra island by Saturday.

The Indian navy also deployed two more ships to Indonesia to help with relief operations, including one converted into a 50-bed hospital with facilities to carry out surgical operation.

“This is an unprecedented global catastrophe and it requires an unprecedented global response,” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

Sunday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake set off a multitude of tsunamis which crashed into 11 Asian and African nations.

The enormous scale of the effort along with the lack of infrastructure in many areas has UN and other aid officials predicting it would be days or even weeks before relief agencies can begin full-scale operations.

Many were only just beginning their assessments, and witnesses said tons of aid was piling up in airports in the Indonesian cities of Medan and Banda Aceh — some for as long four days. Government officials also accused separatist rebels of shooting at truck convoys delivering aid to Banda Aceh.

Source: This is London