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3rd Chinese confirmed dead; aid rushing in
(Agencies/China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-30 00:31

The death toll from last weekend's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe rose to more than 125,000 yesterday as Indonesia uncovered more and more dead from ravaged Sumatra island, where pilots dropped food to remote villages still unreachable by rescue workers.

Member of China's rescuing team Wu Ming is boarding the plane to Indonesia. [newsphoto]
And China confirmed a third death of one of its citizens yesterday while pledging more relief aid and personnel assistance to the tsunami hit nations.

By late yesterday, nearly 5,000 foreigners -- half from Sweden and Germany -- were missing, many of them in Thailand.

About 750 foreigners have been confirmed dead. Westerners killed in the disaster include 44 Swedes, 33 Germans, 27 British, 21 French, 21 Norwegians, 14 Italians, 14 Japanese, 12 Americans, 11 Swiss and 10 Australians.

The death toll increase came after Indonesia reported nearly 28,000 newly confirmed fatalities in Sumatra, which was closest to the epicentre of last weekend's massive 9.0 earthquake. The area was overwhelmed by the tsunami that followed. Some 60 per cent of Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra was destroyed, the UN children's agency estimated.

Indonesia, with around 80,000 dead, was the worst hit, followed by the island nation of Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. The total across 12 nations in southern Asia and East Africa is likely to rise yet again, with thousands still missing and fears that disease could bring a new wave of deaths.

Meanwhile, military ships and planes rushed to provide desperately needed aid to Sumatra's ravaged coastal areas. 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.

The number of deaths in Indonesia stood at about 52,000.

Third Chinese death

The death of another SAR resident was confirmed yesterday, raising the death toll of Hong Kongers to two.

The authorities would only identify the latest casualty as a man. His body was found in Phuket, Thailand.

By early afternoon, 277 people from Hong Kong were officially classified as missing and 723 "potential" missing cases in the region. Of the 277 missing persons, 199 were last seen in Thailand, 24 in Indonesia, 13 in Sri Lanka, 12 in Malaysia, six in the Maldives and 23 in other places.

Deputy Secretary for Security, Michael Wong, said that in the past 24 hours, officials have tracked down about 180 of the 388 people reported missing on the previous day. "Some of them have got in touch with us since then and some are already back in Hong Kong," he said.

China to give 500m yuan aid to tsunami victims

Premier Wen Jiabao announced Friday that China will add an additional 500 million yuan (US$60.46 million) of humanitarian aid to the Indian Ocean tsunami victims.

Wen made the announcement while meeting with diplomatic envoys from the tsunami-hit South and Southeast Asian countries and representatives of some international organizations in Beijing.

China has sent out a rescue team and more rescuers are available when needed by disaster-hit countries, Wen said.

Chinese people are very much concerned with the catastrophe and are greatly sympathetic for the victims, Wen said, expressing his condolence to the victims in the tsunami.

The international community has pledged more relief efforts for tsunami-devastated South and Southeast Asian countries as the death toll from the earthquake and tsunamis climbed to more than 115,000 Thursday.

The disaster not only hit the people in South and Southeast Asian countries, but also harmed all the people on this planet, Wen noted.

China has been frequented by natural calamities and has received the humanitarian aids from friendly nations, acknowledged the premier.

China is convinced that under the leadership of their respective governments and with the assistance from the international communities, the tsunami-ravaged countries would recover from the disaster and re-build their home, the Chinese premier said.

Rescue teams

A 35-person Chinese rescue team headed to Indonesia yesterday to join international efforts to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

Chinese experts are continuing to join rescue teams from international organizations such as the World Health Organization, Liu added.

The Chinese Government has recommended four experts on disease prevent and control join the expert panel of the World Health Organization.

Fifteen experts on epidemic and infection left Shanghai for Thailand last night, they are expected to arrive in Phuket Island early this morning.

Another 12 surgeons from Guangdong are also headed for Thailand today and five DNA professionals from China Academy of Sciences left for Thailand last night.

Residents have taken action to answer the call of the Red Cross Society of China to provide humanitarian aid.

The society decided to donate another US$15 million to those affected countries.

The staff of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad donated 24,000 yuan (US$2,900) to the victims of the tsunami.

In the Chinese capital, a donation hot line was opened to the public yesterday and has received warm feedback.

An official with a donation centre in Beijing said he alone answered quite a lot calls.

"The amount of donations varied from hundreds of yuan to one thousand (US$121)," he said and the total amount donated was not available yet.

Hong Kongers have been keen to make donations and many were concerned about the current death tolls in the disaster areas, said a spokesman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, which set up several donation booths in the territory yesterday.

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