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Indonesia's Earthquake - Tsunami Catastrophe 26th December 2004

Phuket Gazette - Phuket Thiland 

Light a candle and leave a message if you wish, in memory of victims and survivors of the tsunami disaster

This page is no longer updated, but remains here as a tribute to all who were affected by the Tsunami in Indonesia.

Missing persons messages and photographs Phuket Gazette

Unidentified Boy in Phuket - Now reunited with his Father

In response to Indonesia's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe, as a matter of public service, we are making available information which we hope may be of use to visitors of this web site.

A Red cross volunteer speaks to a young girl

A Red cross volunteer speaks to a young girl, one of the French tourists victims of the tsunamis that hit south Asia, who arrives from Pukhet, Thailand, at Roissy airport, north of Paris, after being repatriated. The international Red Cross opened a special website to cope with an overwhelming number of donations from the general public for victims of the tidal waves in the Indian Ocean

Below are links to various organizations involved in providing relief. Please be aware that some of these web sites are very congested and may take some time to access. (Suggestions for further inclusions should be made to

Donations can be made to the various appeals at the following web sites

Disasters Emergency Committee

The Disasters Emergency Committee - - is an umbrella group of UK aid organisations - including Action Aid, British Red Cross and Oxfam - working to provide clean water, food and shelter to thousands. To call from the UK, dial 0870 60 60 900. The Disasters Emergency Committee. is operating as the main focus for donations to various charities in the U.K. - for full detail please visit this web site.

British Red Cross tsunami appeal


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

The UN has warned that supplies are urgently needed to support the survivors and to try and prevent disease which, it says, could double the death toll.

The Disasters Emergency Committee - - is an umbrella group of UK aid organisations - including Action Aid, British Red Cross and Oxfam - working to provide clean water, food and shelter to thousands. To call from the UK, dial 0870 60 60 900.

The United Nations World Food Programme - - is seeking donations to feed victims of the earthquake.

Medecins Sans Frontieres - - is sending aid workers to the region, focusing on medical care for survivors and displaced people after the rescue operations.

The United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef - - is working to meet the "urgent needs of hundreds of thousands of people" affected by the tsunami disaster.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR - - which has been helping victims of conflicts in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, is delivering relief supplies to tsunami survivors in both countries.

Save the Children - - has already flown a plane out to Sri Lanka carrying plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, tents to run children's services from and essentials such as clothing and cooking utensils.

Anti-poverty organisation Care International - - has already provided food for thousands of affected people in Sri Lanka.

Cafod, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development - - is working with partners across Asia to provide shelter, food aid and medical assistance, and assessing what further relief is needed.

The Red Cross, with its sister charity the Red Crescent, is supplying blankets, cooking utensils and other crucial goods. It has had to set up a new site - - because of the unprecedented demand from people wanting to make donations.

The Hindu Forum Disaster Relief Task Force - - comprises 50 organisations and is raising money, clothes and medicines. Donations can be made online or by calling the ISKCON Disaster Appeal on 01923 856848 or Sewa International on 0116 261 0303.

Christian Aid - - has already allocated £250,000 from its emergency fund to help the victims of this disaster but says more money is needed.

Christian charity Tearfund - - and its partners in Sri Lanka and India are helping devastated fishing communities and coastal villages get back on their feet.

Islamic Relief - - has also launched an appeal to provide medical supplies, tents and sanitation facilities for those affected.

The Islamic Aid Emergency Relief Fund - - aims to provide immediate relief and long-term support to people in the affected areas.

Another Islamic charity, Muslim Hands - - is collecting money and sending volunteers to help in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Medair - - is providing emergency support to agencies with a long-term presence in Sri Lanka and its medical experts are assessing the likelihood of malaria and diarrhoea.

Handicap International - is focusing its efforts on helping displaced people, disabled people and vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, elderly people and children. It is trying to raise £425,000.

World Vision - - has also launched an appeal and has already delivered relief goods to thousands.

Concern - - is working with local partners to meet the needs of families in the devastated coastal villages of Tamil Nadu, the worst-affected state in India.

The International Rescue Committee - - is providing emergency supplies and materials to "people most affected by the crisis".

The Salvation Army - has local teams working in a number of affected areas and is sending a team from its international headquarters on Wednesday evening.

Muslim Aid - - has already donated £100,000 towards the purchase of food, clothing and medicine in the region but wants to raise more.

Action Aid - - is the biggest charity working in south India. It is focusing its relief work on the coast of Tamil Nadu, where 7,000 people died. It is working on providing medical assistance and sanitation for the survivors.

Oxfam - - is active in Indonesia, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka and India. Their relief operations include distributing food packs and hygiene kits and setting up water and sanitation facilities.

Asia Quake Relief Appeal UK, a UK-based Sri Lankan organisation, is also raising money and can be e-mailed at

World Jewish Aid - - is working with local partners in India, Indonesia and other affected areas to help survivors threatened by water contamination and disease.

Hindu NGO Baps Care International - - is working in villages around Chennai in Southern India distributing food, drinking water, tarpaulins, utensils, stoves, clothes and blankets.

Goal teams - - are at present working in Tamil Nadu in Southern India where they are distributing aid to 5,000 families.

A large team of doctors, engineers and logisticians are also in Sri Lanka.

Action Against Hunger - - has projects in about 40 countries, including Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

You can donate to all the campaigns via their websites.


Information may be obtained from these web sites

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) News

Foreign and Commonwealth office

International Committee of the Red Cross

As a result of the strongest earthquake in 40 years and massive tidal waves in the Bay Bengal on December 26, 2004, tens of thousands of people in the area are dead, missing or separated from their relatives. Families all over the world have lost contact and are without news of their loved ones in the region. 
The aim of the ICRC's familylinks website is to help those separated by conflict or disaster to find information about their loved ones in order to restore contact.

Victim Name Search - Thailand

Missing persons messages and photographs Phuket Gazette

Map of affected countries and their death tolls

Tsunami aid: Who's giving what

Thai Government

Thai resource page

United Nations



avsglos is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Countries hit  by the tsunami - 26th December 2004 


Impact: The west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the closest inhabited area to the epicentre of the earthquake, was devastated by the tsunami. More than 70% of the inhabitants of some coastal villages are reported to have died.

Toll: The death toll stands at 94,000 but officials expect it to rise. Heavy rains after the tsunami in Aceh, northern Sumatra, have increased the risk of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

Aid: All infrastructure has been wiped out in the worst-affected areas, leaving people in need of water and food as well as shelter. Many local government officials are themselves dead or missing. Aid organisations were barred from the area because of separatist conflict, until the tsunami struck.


Impact: More people have died in Sri Lanka as a result of the tsunami than anywhere else, apart from Indonesia. A correspondent who flew over the country by helicopter described it as ravaged. Homes, crops and fishing boats have all been destroyed.

Toll: More than 30,000 have died, and thousands more are missing. The number of homeless people is put at between 800,000 and one million.

Aid: A relief operation is in full swing. Foreign aid workers say they are seeing an unprecedented level of co-operation between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Tamil Tigers to deliver much-needed aid to the impoverished north-east.


Impact: India's south-east coast, especially the state of Tamil Nadu, and the Andaman and Nicobar islands, were the worst-affected areas. (See below for more details on the Andaman and Nicobar islands.)

Toll: Some 9,500 people are confirmed dead, and more than 6,000 are missing. At least 140,000 people, mostly from fishing families, are in relief centres.

Aid: Medical teams have begun a vaccination campaign to try to reduce the spread of disease.


Impact: Salt water, which washed over the islands, contaminated many sources of fresh water, and destroyed large areas of arable land. Most of the islands' jetties have also been destroyed.

Toll: More than 800 of the island's 400,000 people are confirmed dead and some 5,000 are missing.

Aid: India has refused assistance from international aid agencies, because the presence of a military base on one of the islands and the presence of stone-age tribes on some others. It has evacuated 3,000 people and set up a relief operation in the capital, Port Blair. Inhabitants of the most remote islands proved that they had survived by shooting arrows at coast guard helicopters.


Impact: The west coast of Thailand was severely hit, including outlying islands and tourist resorts such as Phuket. Some bodies may still lie in the rubble of ruined hotels.

Toll: More than 5,200 are confirmed dead, but the Thai prime minister says this figure is certain to rise. Half of the bodies identified so far are foreigners, from a total of 36 countries.

Aid: Thailand has asked for technical help to identify the dead, and a huge operation to take DNA samples from the bodies is under way.


Impact: Large areas of the capital, Male, were left under water. With most of the Maldives being only 1m (3ft) above sea level, the damage is extensive.

Toll: High waves and floods inundated the islands, killing at least 74 people, with dozens of others missing.


Impact: Although Malaysia lies close to the epicentre, much of its coastline was spared widespread devastation because it was shielded by Sumatra. However, scores of people were swept from beaches near the northern island of Penang.

Toll: At least 68 people are confirmed dead.


Impact: The worst affected area was the Irrawaddy Delta, inhabited by poor subsistence farmers and fishing families.

Toll: Burma's military junta has put the death toll at 59, but the World Food Programme (WFP) says this may be an underestimate. One WFP employee found 200 households where at least one person, who had been out fishing when the tsunami struck, was missing.


Toll: Two people have been reported dead in Bangladesh.


Impact: Somalia is the worst-hit African state, with damage concentrated in the region of Puntland, on the tip of the Horn of Africa. The water destroyed 1,180 homes, smashed 2,400 boats and rendered freshwater wells and reservoirs unusable, the UN said in a report on 4 January.

Toll: At least 150 Somalis are known to have died, with thousands more homeless and many fishermen still unaccounted for. About 50,000 people have been displaced.

Aid: The UN has called for $13m to help tsunami victims. Aid agencies with small ground operations in Puntland have delivered food and relief supplies, as has a German Navy helicopter. Somalia is anarchic and has few roads, presenting aid agencies with a major challenge.


One person drowned in Kenya, and the country's meteorological service initially warned tourists, fishermen and businesspeople to stay away from the coasts.


Ten people were killed in Tanzania.


One person was killed in the Seychelles and there has been extensive flooding.

QuickBird satellite image of the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka

QuickBird satellite image of the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka

1020 hours local time on December 26, 2004

This QuickBird satellite image of the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka, just south of the city of Colombo in a resort area called Kalutara, was made shortly after the moment of tsunami impact,1020 hours local time on December 26, 2004, slightly less than four hours after the earthquake.

The disaster struck a band of the tropics that not only is heavily populated but attracts tourists from all corners. Throughout the world, people sought word of missing relatives, from small-town Sri Lankan fishermen to Europeans on sand-and-sun holidays.

As a result of the strongest earthquake in 40 years and massive tidal waves in the Bay Bengal on December 26, 2004, tens of thousands of people in the area are dead, missing or separated from their relatives.

A vast swathe of coastline which was home to tens of thousands of people has been wiped out.

Countries hit  by the tsunami - 26th December 2004

Indonesia's earthquake - tsunami castatrophe December 26, 2004

More than 124,000 people have been confirmed dead across Asia - three-fourths in Indonesia alone.

The United Nations says the number exceeds 150,000 and may never be known as many bodies have been washed out to sea.

But people are still being found alive seven days after the disaster. The latest was a fisherman found under his boat which was flung by the waves onto the shore in Indonesia. 

The UN has warned the final death toll is likely to be more than 150,000 - and may never be known.

Countries hit  by the tsunami - 26th December 2004


Swedish toddler Hannes Bergstrom

Monday 27th December 2005

Swedish toddler Hannes Bergstrom who was separated from his parents when he was rescued in Phang Nga, was identified within an hour of his picture being posted online.

PHUKET: A young boy rescued by a couple and taken to Phuket International Hospital has been identified as a 20-month old Swedish boy.

Family members in Finland saw the photograph of young Hannes Bergstrom on the Phuket Gazette website and contacted the boy's uncle, Tim Karkkinen, in Pattaya within an hour of the story going online.

Mr Karkkinen told the Gazette that although the father, Marko Bergstrom, and the boy's grandfather are in Phang Nga Hospital, no trace has as yet been found of the boy's mother and grandmother.

The family were staying in Khao Lak.

Many remote communities there have been completely cut off

Sunday 2nd January 2005

Tsunami aid reaches isolated Aceh

US helicopters have begun dropping food and medical supplies in isolated parts of Aceh province in Indonesia that were worst hit by last Sunday's tsunami.

Many remote communities there have been completely cut off and it is difficult to get aid in, relief workers say.

In the second-worst affected country, Sri Lanka, there were fears of disease after heavy rains and flash flooding. 

Aid deliveries are relying on helicopters as the only way to reach the most remote areas

About 12 American Seahawk helicopters are now delivering aid from a US aircraft carrier stationed off the coast of western Aceh, near the epicentre of the earthquake.

The area has been completely cut off for a week, the BBC's Rachel Harvey reports from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.

A vast swathe of coastline which was home to tens of thousands of people has been wiped out and survivors are living in a sea of mud without shelter or clean water.

Aid deliveries are relying on helicopters as the only way to reach the most remote areas but they are often unable to touch down because of mobs of people on the ground running towards them desperate for help. 

Hundreds of thousands of survivors are now in urgent need

Hundreds of thousands of survivors are now in urgent need

Areas hit by the Asian tsunami could take up to 10 years to recover, the UN secretary general has warned.

Kofi Annan spoke of the "sheer complexity" of the relief effort, which is spread across a dozen nations.

Aid supplies are piling up in regional warehouses, but in some places, heavy rain has provided an extra obstacle to delivering them to outlying areas

The United Nations says $2bn has now been raised in aid for the victims, including up to $500m in emergency assistance pledged by Japan

US military helicopters have visited remote areas

US military helicopters have visited remote areas to distribute aid.

A spokesman for the UN's World Food Programme said that in some coastal villages outside Banda Aceh, helicopter crews had to throw food and other supplies to the ground after desperate mobs prevented them from landing.

But speedy, well-led and co-ordinated action is crucial to save the isolated clusters of survivors spotted on the Sumatran coast and islands, who may have spent a week without food and clean water.

A Swedish tourist who was pictured running into the Asian tsunami to save her family

A Swedish tourist who was pictured running into the Asian tsunami to save her family survived the catastrophe, as did her children, it has been revealed.

Newspapers around the world showed a desperate Karin Svaerd heading into the waves as other tourists fled.

"I can remember the white foam, how the surf took them up and they disappeared," she told Britain's News of the World in an interview published on Sunday.

"I could hear people shouting at me 'Get off the beach' as I ran past them - but I ignored them," she said.  "I had to try and save my children, nothing was going to stop me."

Then she feared for her husband Lars, her sons Anton, 14, Filip, 11, and Viktor, 10, and her brother, Per.

She found them together 10 minutes later.

They flew back to Sweden, arriving on 30 December, and then seeing the pictures in the press, under headlines like: "No one knows if they survived."

"Now, our family is closer than ever before," Mrs Svaerd said.

"We came so close to death that we realise how valuable life is."

Aceh 2003 - Lush vegetationAceh end of December 2004 - The land has been laid bare

Left: A satellite image taken in 2003 shows the lush vegetation in the Indonesian province of Aceh - one of the regions to be hardest hit by the waves.

Right: An image of the same region three days after the disaster shows how the water has stripped the land bare - washing away everything in its wake.

Tuesday, 4th January, 2005
Germany: 60 dead
1,000 missing
Sweden: 52 dead
2,322 missing
Britain: 41 dead
159 missing
France: 22 dead
99+ missing
Norway: 16 dead
91 missing
Japan: 21 dead
Italy: 18 dead
540+ missing
Switzerland: 23 dead
105 missing
US: 16 dead
Australia: 12 dead
79 missing
South Korea: 11 dead
9 missing

Figures include those feared dead but not all unaccounted for.
Sources: Reuters, AP

Thai man searching through debris in Taku Pa

Thai man searching through debris in Taku Pa

It has taken George W Bush some days to realise what ordinary people want their leaders to do at times of great international suffering.

To be fair, he's by no means the only one.

Tony Blair and leaders from countries as far apart as Japan and Scandinavia, mostly off duty for the holidays, have also been accused of slowness and stinginess.

Now President Bush is starting to move, pledging $350m in total aid, sending 1,500 US marines to Sri Lanka, and a dozen naval vessels and 40 helicopters to the region.

Kofi Annan wants pledges of immediate aid for tsunami survivors

Thursday 6th January, 2005


EU: $30m already being spent on the ground, $132m in short-term aid, $455m for long-term reconstruction

Australia: $810m, distributed over five years, half the sum in loans

Germany: $674m in aid over the next three to five years

Japan: $500m - half in bilateral aid, half through multilateral institutions

US: $350m in debt relief, no time scale given

UK: $96m in aid of which $13m spent so far, hundreds of millions more promised

Sixty-eight-year-old Rasamani

Sixty-eight-year-old Rasamani sits on what's left of her home and cries.

You can't call it a house - only the floor is left.

"I keep thinking why did I survive," she sobs. "There's no point in the elderly living - it's our children who should have survived".

When the giant wave came she was swept to the top of a tall palm tree.

Her two daughters and two grand-daughters died, but they found the body of only one grand-daughter.

The village of Vathiragan lies in ruins

This is the first time Rasamani has been back to her village of Vathiragan since the tsunami on 26 December.

The whole area is devastated. It's not just her house - her neighbours suffered in just the same way.

"In many houses four, five, six people are dead. In some houses all are gone," she says.

Rasamani, who's a widow, survived a cyclone in the 1960s, 20 years of bombardment, bereavement and displacement in Sri Lanka's civil war, and now the tsunami.

Parents have left messages of hope and despair

Saturday 8th January, 2005

Every day more and more lost and frightened children are arriving at a special centre that has been set up in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia's northern province of Aceh.

Anxious parents come here to search for their children. At its entrance is a message board. The messages flow with hope and despair.

The names of the missing are called out to the survivors. To help with the search they have started registering children here, taking photos to help put families back together.

But some already know the worst. Eleven-year-old Mawada hangs back until the very end. How many in your family, asks the official. "Seven," says Mawada, "but they're all dead now."

Injured children are still being found in outlying areas

First they died in their thousands. And now so many survivors have found themselves orphaned, lost in a world of total chaos.

Eleven days on, the wounded are still being brought in. Often the children are unaccompanied - their parents dead or simply missing.

Rafi Maulana. He arrived here wounded and alone, his parents killed. But who should decide what happens to him now?

"It's enormously difficult, particularly with medical demands requiring them to be moved away from their home areas," says Australian doctor James Bramley.

"There are a lot of displaced children who may end up not being cared for by the appropriate people."

Carol Bellamy wants schools to re-open in Sri Lanka

"School in a box" for Sri Lanka

Children in Sri Lanka whose schools have been destroyed by the tsunami are to be helped by "school in a box" kits being sent by Unicef.

The United Nation's children's agency is delivering the first batch of 100 kits which will help teachers to set up temporary outdoor classrooms.

The United Nation's children's agency is delivering the first batch of 100 kits which will help teachers to set up temporary outdoor classrooms.

The kits include books, pencils, a blackboard, chalk, posters and teaching materials for up to 80 pupils.

Unicef wants to help schools in Sri Lanka to re-open next week.

"Nothing will signal hope more clearly than re-building and re-opening schools," said Unicef's executive director, Carol Bellamy.

The children's agency says that restoring education services must be a priority.

The school in a box kits are intended as a fast, portable way to re-open schools - and in Sri Lanka it is suggested these classes could take place beneath the shade of a large tree.

What the "Classroom in a box" contains

The Unicef kit is about 80 x 55 x 65 cm (32 x 22 x 26 in) and weighs 52 kgs (115 lbs).

Teachers get:
1 x Bag, Unicef, blue nylon, 360mmx230mmx610mm
2 x Pen, ball-point, black
2 x Pen, ball-point, red
2 x Pen, ball-point, blue
1 x Triangle chalkboard, 30-60-90 degrees
1 x Triangle chalkboard, 90-45 degrees
3 x Chalk, assorted colours/box-100
3 x Chalk, white/box-100
2 x Book, exercise, A4, ruled-8mm, 96 pages
1 x Clock, teaching, wood
1 x Pens, felt-tip, ass.colours, 0.8-1mm/pack-6
2 x Marker, flipchart, colours, tip-4.5mm/pack-4
1 x Scissors, all purpose, sharp, 180mm
1 x Tape-measure, vinyl-coated, 1.5m/5ft
2 x Paint, chalkboard, black
1 x Brush, paint, for chalkboard, 60-65mm
1 x Box, metal, lockable for storage
1 x Set of 3 posters, plasticized paper
1 x Poster, multiplication table
1 x Poster, number table
1 x Poster, alphabet table
1 x Compass, chalkboard, 40 cm
1 x Ruler, chalkboard, 100cm
1 x Cubes, wood or plast., coloured, set of 100
2 x Register, A4, squared, 40 sheets
1 x Duster/wiper for chalkboard
2 x Decal, Unicef, round, diameter 205mm
1 x Guidelines for the kit
1 x Tape, adhesive, transp 1, 5cm x 10m/box-20

Students' materials:
48 x Crayon, wax, assorted colours/box-8
120 x Eraser, soft
100 x Book, exercise, A5, 5mm-square, 48 pages
100 x Book, exercise, A5, ruled-8mm, 48 pages
100 x Pencil sharpener, plastic
144 x Pencil for slates
144 x Pencil, HB grade, black
80 x Bag, carrier, A4, interlock seal
10 x Ruler, plastic, 30cm, set of 10
40 x Scissors, safety, school, B/B, 135mm
40 x Slate, student's, A4 (210 x 297mm)

Source: Unicef catalogue



At least 100,000 people are believed dead in Aceh and Northern Sumatra, while some 500,000 people are sheltering in scattered refugee camps across the province, the UN estimates.

Large swathes of Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and Calang and their outlying districts are completely destroyed.

To speed up aid delivery, the Australian Air Force has assisted in improving air traffic control at Banda Aceh airport. The UN is moving supplies by truck along the road from the regional capital Medan.

Other agencies are shipping relief by sea to outlying islands. The ports of Belawan and Lhokseumawe are the nearest harbours undamaged by the tsunami.

Aid is being distributed, and no disease has been reported

The UN says it is optimistic that none of the survivors of the Asian tsunami will lose their lives due to hunger.

Jim Morris, head of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said he expected food aid to reach almost all survivors within the next seven days.

More than 150,000 people have been killed across Asia. The UN has warned that the toll could rise further if more died from hunger and disease.

But no major outbreaks have been reported so far

The WFP head said that aid had reached "nearly everyone who has been harmed by the disaster".

"Through our partners, a good many NGOs, we've found ways to get food to everyone who's in need," he said.

He said the agency was feeding 750,000 people in Sri Lanka, and 130,000-150,000 in Indonesia - primarily in Aceh province, the worst-hit by the earthquake and the tsunami on 26 December

Many children have lost everything in the disaster

Monday 10th January, 2005

Saturday was Children's Day in Thailand, although it was hardly a celebration for many of the children in the tsunami-ravaged regions of the west coast.

Twelve-year-old Siriam and 10-year-old Boui lost their mothers in the disaster, as well as their homes.

"People said the earth was splitting, and I could hear everyone screaming," said Siriam.

"I went out to see what was happening and someone grabbed my arm and took me up the hill."

Her mother was not so lucky. She is assumed to be dead, but her remains have yet to be found.

The body of Boui's mother was discovered soon after the disaster, impaled on a piece of wood.

Despite their loss, Siriam and Boui, like many other children from Phi Phi island, still found the strength to take part in a special Children's Day event at Uttarakij School, in the town of Krabi.

Children's Day in Thailand

The children danced, sang, ate sweets and listened to a speech by the guest-of-honour, Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Sutham Saengpratoom - all designed to make them forget their traumatic experiences.

The children of Phi Phi have lived through the almost complete devastation of their island.

The destruction was so complete that almost all of the islanders are now living on the mainland, in and around Krabi.

Children's Day celebrations took place in all the Thai regions affected by the tsunami, but the atmosphere was clearly different to that of previous years.

"There was less music and dancing, and more of a priority was given to providing psychological help to children affected by the disaster," said Suphinda Chakraband, who has helped to co-ordinate the aid effort to children on the island of Phuket.

There are fears the controls could hamper relief efforts

Wednesday 12th January, 2005

Foreign troops helping the tsunami aid effort in Indonesia's Aceh province must leave by the end of March, the government in Jakarta has said.

Foreign aid workers and journalists in the ravaged province must also now register travel plans, officials said.

Foreign troops operating in, or due to arrive in, Aceh include those from the US, Singapore, Australia, and Japan.

Their helicopters are enabling aid to reach remote communities on Aceh's west coast which were worst hit by the tsunami.

The Indonesian authorities first said they would limit the movements of aid workers on Tuesday, but more details have now emerged of those restrictions.

In future, all foreigners will have to register at a foreign affairs desk in Banda Aceh and complete forms detailing their current and planned activities, as well as any travel plans outside the provincial capital of Banda Aceh and its suburbs, and the devastated town of Meulaboh.

Supplies are brought by helicopter because the only road has gone

Thursday 13th January, 2005

Efforts are continuing to deliver relief supplies and assistance to more remote areas of the Indonesian province of Aceh hit by the tsunami disaster.

Aid workers are particularly concerned about the survivors from small villages and towns along the west coast.

Among them is Lamno, left isolated after the only link road to Banda Aceh, about 100km away, was destroyed.

As everywhere along the Aceh coast, the devastation left by the 26 December tsunami is astonishing.

Thousands homeless

But Lamno has perhaps suffered more than many places because it sits on a river which channelled the surge of water further inland.

Houses have been flattened here more than 3km from the ocean.

Banda Aceh residents are reliant on foreign aid

Press grateful, wary over Aceh aid

President Yudhoyono has warned every element of the Indonesian nation not to be suspicious about the presence of thousands of troops from friendly countries in Aceh. They have come here for a humanitarian mission and to rehabilitate and reconstruct Aceh. Instead, we ought to be grateful.


We should thank the hard-working guests because without their help, the suffering of the victims of the natural disaster would be much worse... We do hope that the negative statements, xenophobia and a lack of appreciation shown by some members of society, will not discourage our Samaritan friends.

Jakarta Post

Some 2,500 people in Beruwala depend on the harbour

It is late in the evening at Beruwala's tsunami-ravaged harbour but Nirmal Fernando is hard at work.

He is loading ice into the container of a big fishing boat so it can sail out next morning.

Just outside the harbour, massive cranes are still moving boats that December's tsunami tossed from the sea into ditches, canals and roads.

But inside the devastated harbour Fernando, an ice supplier, says he is back in business already.

"We just carried out some minor repairs on the boat and we are set to go out to sea. Life has to go on," says Fernando.

The Indian military has played a key role in getting aid to the islands

Aid to Indian islands 'hijacked'

Red Cross officials have accused the authorities in India's tsunami-struck Andaman and Nicobar Islands of "hijacking" aid supplies.

A spokesman for the agency said relief materials seized on the islands had been found with government workers.

Island officials have not commented on the charge but stress their policy that foreign aid to the islands only be distributed through the government.

Aid has yet to reach remote parts of many islands, a BBC correspondent says.

More than 1,800 people are now known confirmed to have died on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after sea surges triggered by a massive underwater earthquake struck there on 26 December.

Twelve British charities make up the Disasters Emergency Committee

The UK's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has said it its tsunami aid appeal is set to raise £200m.

The umbrella charity group has received more than 2.8 million donations. 

It said the UK public's contributions had been "magnificent" and "humbling".

Of the donations, 1.7 million were by telephone, 650,000 online, 106,000 by text and 350,000 through the post.

DEC chairman David Glencross said: "We asked the British public to respond urgently and generously, and they have done so magnificently.

"They have made an unprecedented contribution, which will make a real difference to the lives and livelihoods of people affected by this disaster over the years to come."

The Tigers have routinely denied they are still recruiting underage fighters

Tamil Tigers 'drafting children'

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have been recruiting child soldiers from relief camps set up after December's tsunami, the United Nations says.

The UN's child agency, Unicef, says it has monitored the cases of three girls who had been recruited by the rebels.

The Tamil Tigers deny accusations they forcibly recruited the children.

The rebels and the government are in a bitter dispute over aid provision.

The issue of child recruitment has been a major point of difference between Unicef and the Tamil Tigers since a ceasefire began in early 2002.

Correspondents say the issue is particularly sensitive now, given the arguments between the rebels and the government about the distribution of aid in areas of Sri Lanka controlled by the Tigers.

Aid agencies have so far reported no hindrance from the military

Friday 14th January, 2005

Agencies accept Aceh travel regulations

New travel regulations for foreigners in Aceh should not hinder the relief effort in Indonesia, aid agencies have told the BBC News website.

They do not expect the requirements to curtail access to remote areas for now. The measures require foreign staff to register travel plans outside the main cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh.

However, human rights groups say they will be looking out for signs of "aid discrimination" by Indonesian troops involved in the distribution.

Aid workers in the field said the measures appeared to be more about monitoring movement rather than restricting access.

Shaista Aziz of Oxfam, which is providing water and sanitation in six large emergency camps, said the military had been helpful in providing transportation.

Human rights agencies are cautious about the military's involvement

'Polite announcement'

Aitor Lacomba, deputy director of International Rescue Committee, said he had met senior military staff to discuss the aid organisation's work in Aceh:

"[They] said it would be good if we could report our movements but he did not mention anything about restrictions.

"[They] even said that if we had to get to an area in an emergency, that we should go and report back to them later."

Under the new guidelines outlined in correspondence to foreign organisations operating in Indonesia, "all foreigners are required to register at the foreign desk in Banda Aceh."

They must complete forms detailing their current and planned activities as well as any travel plans outside Banda Aceh and its suburbs, and Meulaboh.

There are concerns that long-term conflict in Aceh could disrupt aid

Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla has said his government wants a permanent truce with rebels in Aceh.

Analysts are unsure if the tsunami will bring both sides to talks to end the decades-long conflict, or whether its disruption will be exploited.

Linda North, field programme director for International Medical Corps, which is providing mobile medical and psychological assistance to tsunami victims, described the travel regulation measures as "a polite announcement and not a heavy-duty requirement."

"At this point, we don't see it having any bearing. It's not surprising they are trying to take some control," she said.

"We are paying particular attention to any reports that aid distribution and assistance have been carried out in a discriminatory manor," Amnesty International said.

"While some of the concerns and frustrations so far may relate to logistical and administration bottle-necks, we are also closely monitoring any alleged human right abuses associated with the continuing conflict in Aceh.

"It will be important to ensure that the situation is not exploited by either party to further human rights abuses."

Thousands of parents lost children to the tsunami in Sri Lanka

Nine 'mothers' claim tsunami baby

Nine women in Sri Lanka are reported to have claimed to be the mother of an unidentified infant rescued from the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The boy was covered in bruises and mud when he was brought to a hospital in the town of Kalmunai, a doctor said.

Police were called after some of the women threatened violence, the Associated Press agency reports.

Tsunami-hit areas have reported several cases of parents who lost offspring claiming rescued orphans as their own.

Children are believed to make up about 40% of the estimated 31,000 people killed by the sea surges which struck Sri Lanka on 26 December.

The tsunami also left behind some 1,000 orphans in the country, according to data quoted by the UN's children's charity, Unicef.

It is argued that local people have more idea of the needs of islanders

Tuesday 18th January, 2005

Tribal organisations in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands have severely criticised the local administration.

They have accused it of refusing to carry relief material from local voluntary groups to remote islands which were devastated by the tsunami.

The island administration has stopped voluntary groups from relief work in the worst-affected Nicobar region.

Last week, Red Cross officials accused the authorities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of "hijacking" aid.

Some western government have only rescheduled debt repayment

Western nations need to deliver the money pledged in the aftermath of the tsunami and stop "dragging their feet", Oxfam has warned in a report.

The UN humanitarian appeal funded by governments is still underfunded by 26%, and there are fears that initial promises might not be kept.

The charity is urging governments to deliver money quickly.

In past emergencies, such as the quake that destroyed the city of Bam in Iran, money was promised but not delivered.

A boy scout examines a display showing the life-cycle of the mosquito.

Wednsday 19th January, 2005

PA KHLOK: The Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) today launched an anti-malaria campaign at the football field in Pa Khlok.

Officers from the PPHO, local villagers, teachers and students, as well as volunteers and members of the Pa Khlok Tambon Administration Organization (OrBorTor), joined forces to clear up places where standing water would allow mosquitoes to breed, and fumigated areas to kill adult mosquitoes.

As part of the campaign’s aim of educating people about malaria, a quiz contest was held about the disease.

Panya Sumphaorat, Chief Administrative Officer of Pa Khlok OrBorTor, said, “Pa Khlok people realize the dangers that mosquitoes bring, and came up with the idea of starting this campaign.”

Dr Somchai Pinyopornpanich, Deputy Director of the Bangkok-based Department of Disease Control, said, “Pa Khlok is a malaria risk area this year because of the tsunami, but I am confident that this campaign will kill mosquitoes and keep local people and tourists safe from malaria.”

A fire broke out in Banda Aceh on Monday, hampering aid efforts

Tuesday 25th January, 2005

Indonesia has again raised its estimate of the number of people killed by December's earthquake and tsunami.

Health Minister Fadilah Supari said more than 220,000 people died or are missing, bringing the total killed throughout the region to 280,000.

A month after the disaster, relief workers in Aceh province are still pulling corpses from the wreckage.

But daily life is slowly returning, and the province's schools were reportedly set to reopen on Wednesday.

"One of the best things you can do for children is to establish a sense of normalcy and routine," Save the Children spokeswoman Eileen Burke told Reuters news agency.

Only the bodies of foreign victims will be moved

The Thai authorities have begun moving the bodies of foreign tsunami victims to a central point on Phuket island.

Most of the corpses being relocated are currently in temples near the badly hit Khao Lak resort in Phang Nga province.

More than 5,300 people are now known to have died when the 26 December tsunami hit Thailand's coast - with more than 4,000 of those killed in Phang Nga.

Soon after the disaster, morgues were set up at temples in the province, such as in Takua Pa and Bang Muang.

But there have been increasing calls for a centrally-located area, where the corpses could be identified with modern equipment.

It was a day of mixed emotions for Aceh's schoolchildren

Wednesday 26th January, 2005

Schools in the Indonesian province of Aceh have reopened for the first time since an earthquake and tsunami devastated the region one month ago.

More than 100 schools reopened throughout the province, to give surviving pupils some kind of normalcy.

The move came as talks between the Indonesian government and Aceh's separatist rebels looked set to begin.

Jakarta said three top ministers would go to Finland to meet the exiled rebel leadership for talks on Friday.

Correspondents say the Asian tsunami appears to have brought the two sides back to the negotiating table.

In all, 25 teachers showed up. There were 75 teachers here before.

About 130 Acehnese schools reopened on Wednesday, with many others operating out of tents.

For the first time since the terrible events of 26 December, schoolchildren - many no longer in uniforms - arrived to find their surviving teachers and classmates.

No one is very interested in a formal curriculum, however.

The happiness of children being reunited with their friends was muted by the rows of empty seats - a stark testament to the huge numbers lost to the tsunami.

An estimated 1,700 primary school teachers are dead or missing, and 35% of school-age children in the provincial capital Banda Aceh are thought to have been killed.

English teacher Roslina Ramli - who lost her four children to the tsunami - was the first teacher to arrive at her SM Pertama Negeri 2 school on Wednesday morning.

In all, 25 teachers showed up. "There were 75 teachers here before," Ms Ramli said tearfully.

Buddhist monks light candles at Talpe, south of Colombo

Ceremonies have been taking place in Sri Lanka one month after coastal areas were devastated by December's Indian Ocean tsunami.

The country observed one minute's silence at 0936 local time (0336 GMT), when the giant waves first struck land.

Rebel Tamil Tigers declared Wednesday to be a day of mourning in the northern and eastern areas of the country they control.

"Let us all share in the grief and bereavement of our brethren who have lost their beloved ones," a Tamil Tiger statement said, the AFP news agency reports.

In many parts of the country, people gathered at candle-lit religious ceremonies to remember the dead.

The tsunami seems to have given an impetus to both sides

Saturday 29th January, 2005

Talks between the Indonesian government and Aceh's separatist rebels will end a day early, international mediators say.

It is unclear why the meeting in Finland is finishing on Saturday.

A top-level delegation from Jakarta met leaders from the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) outside the Finnish capital Helsinki on Friday.

The discussions, which mark the first contact between the sides for nearly two years, were reported to have got off to a good start.

Friday's meeting was the first time the two sides had held formal discussions since May 2003.

The Andaman Islands were one of the worst hit by the tsunami

Wednesday 2nd February, 2005

Nine people who survived the Asian tsunami have been found on an Indian island after 38 days of living on coconuts, police say.

A police party making a random check found five men, three children and one woman in a remote part of Campbell Bay, an island in the Andaman archipelago.

The nine, all of them emaciated, are Nicobari aboriginals, Campbell Bay's police chief said.

They were the sole survivors out of a community of about 150.

The suffering caused by the tsunami could last for years

The suffering caused by the tsunami could last for years

Trauma risk for tsunami survivors

Up to nine in 10 survivors of December's Indian Ocean tsunami are likely to suffer from psychological trauma, experts have warned.

A Bangkok conference on treating tsunami survivors was told the mental health damage could last years.

"Recovery cannot take place unless we remain aware of the emotional effects and the mental health consequences," psychiatrist Jonathan Davidson said.

The likely death toll from the disaster is now more than 250,000.

Elephants are able to reach places that machinery cannot

Elephants are able to reach places that machinery cannot

Thursday 10th February, 2005

Indonesia has asked Singaporean vets to airlift anti-tetanus vaccines for elephants helping in the massive post-tsunami clean-up.

Their sensitive trunks are being cut by nails, broken timber and jagged sheets of corrugated iron roofing as they push rubble and debris out of the way.

The animals, working in six-hour shifts since the day of the disaster, are playing a vital role in removing debris and need to be inoculated.

Their work is unlikely to end soon.

The elephants, normally used in Sumatra's logging industry, are frequently capable of more delicate work than the heavy machinery that is otherwise used.

Fishermens livelihoods have been wrecked by the tsunami

People's livelihoods have been wrecked by the tsunami

US President George W Bush has said he is seeking a $600m (£323m) boost in aid to nations hit by the Asian tsunami.

The new money, which needs to be approved by Congress, comes on top of the original $350m (£188m) pledged after the 26 December tsunami.

The aid package includes $339m (£182m) for reconstruction projects and $168m (£90m) to provide food and shelter.

More than 200,000 people were killed in the tsunami, according to the United Nations, most of them in Indonesia.


Swedes mark tsunami anniversary

In Stockholm, candles were lit in memory of the dead

In Stockholm, candles were lit in memory of the dead

One year on, Sweedish families pay tribute to the dead.

Swedish families have travelled to Thailand to pay tributes to the dead


Monday 26th December, 2005

Sweden, which suffered the highest losses in the Indian Ocean tsunami for any country outside of Asia, is commemorating those who died.

Five hundred and forty three Swedes were among around 2,400 foreigners who died on 26 December 2004.

Official ceremonies were being held in Sweden, and hundreds of Swedes attended ceremonies in Thailand.

In Sweden, a minute's silence and the lighting of 543 candles marked the lives of each of those who died.

The royal family attended a ceremony at Skansen, in Stockholm.

"The catastrophe entered our homes and ripped apart our families," Swedish Parliament Speaker Bjorn von Sydow told mourners braving the cold at the outdoor ceremony, AP reported.


Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds had already announced that she would not be attending the public ceremonies after drawing criticism for her reaction to the crisis.

The government was condemned for its slow response to help survivors and families of relatives.

Tsunami buoy laid in Indian ocean

Tsunami buoy, for measuring pressure in the ocean

Friday 1st December, 2006

The first of a planned network of tsunami early warning buoys is being laid in the Indian Ocean.

The buoy is being placed between Thailand and Sri Lanka, two of the countries worst-hit by the 2004 tsunami which killed more than 200,000 people.

The buoy, provided by the US, is able to detect sudden increases in pressure deep under the sea and give coastal communities early warning of a tsunami.

The US already operates a similar system in the Pacific Ocean.

The cost of the US-designed device is being shared by the US and Thailand.

How the Dart Early Warning System Works

It will be anchored about 1,000 km (620 miles) off the west coast of Thailand, near the Nicobar islands.

It is hoped that eventually a network of 24 buoys will extend to Indonesia and Australia, along the deep and unstable fault-line that caused the 2004 earthquake.


How the Dart Early Warning System Works

1. Float in a "stilling well" tube measures sea level
2. Data is processed and sent to satellite
3. Satellite transmits data to alert centres

The Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) system has a platform that lies on the seafloor monitoring seismic activity and sending signals to a buoy floating on the surface.

The buoy then uses satellite communication to pass on the gathered information to tsunami warning centres around the Indian Ocean.

In the event of an earthquake it is designed to detect whether a tsunami will occur and pinpoint its height, location and when it will make landfall.

"Two years ago, few people really knew what a tsunami was or how powerful and destructive a tsunami could be," US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce said ahead of the buoy-laying mission.

"There were no warning systems then, and most people did not know what to do when they watched the waters recede from the beaches before the waves struck.

"With the launching of this buoy, we are taking a big step forwards in better protecting hundreds of millions of people living across the Indian Ocean," he added.

Many people still live in tents two years after the tsunami

Many people still live in tents two years after the tsunami


Aid agencies have accused governments in five countries hit by the Asian tsunami of failing to provide housing, relief or work to all the victims.

The UN-backed report said coastal dwellers were being discouraged or even stopped from returning to their land.

The authors visited 50,000 people in towns and villages in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Maldives and Thailand.

The report, by Action Aid and two other charities, was released at the UN headquarters in New York.

The horrifying images from the tsunami provoked a massive international response with money pouring in from governments and individuals alike.

The report highlights how, despite the unprecedented relief effort, the authorities in five of the affected countries failed to help some of their most vulnerable communities.

'Forcibly moved'

The authors said that governments stood back or were complicit as coastal communities were pushed out in favour of commercial interests.

According to the report, villagers in India's Andhra Pradesh were forcibly moved from their homes to make way for tourist resorts and in Sri Lankan coastal families say they still do not know if they will be able to rebuild on their old homes.

The aid agencies also found large numbers of people living in overcrowded temporary shelters or tents. Women in Banda Aceh in Indonesia and the Maldives told the authors the poor living conditions left them open to sexual harassment and intimidation.

The report said the disaster magnified existing discrimination. In India the village authorities ignored pleas from the lowest caste, the dalits, for relief and the community known as the sea gypsies in Thailand faced similar treatment.

Action Aid chief executive, Ramesh Singh, said that a major effort was now needed to correct the wrongs seen during the response to the tsunami.




Former US President Bill Clinton has voiced concern at slow progress in rehousing those left homeless by the 2004 Asian tsunami

Mr Clinton said that only about a third of those affected by the disaster were back in permanent housing. He said more action was needed.

Former US President Bill Clinton visiting the area in 2006

Mr Clinton has been visiting countries hit by the tsunami

'Speed up rebuilding'

Mr Clinton received a warm welcome in Banda Aceh, the capital of the province in northern Sumatra that was devastated by the waves.H

e visited those left homeless by the disaster, meeting refugees at a camp near Banda Aceh.


Clinton warns on tsunami progress

The former president is on a tour of tsunami-hit nations in his capacity as UN special envoy for tsunami aid.

He has visited Thailand and India and is now in Indonesia's Aceh province.

More than 200,000 people died in the 26 December 2004 tsunami, which was triggered by an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean.

"I hope Clinton's visit can speed up rebuilding of our house," one refugee, Syarifuddin, told the Associated Press news agency.

"We cannot stand living in this unhealthy camp any longer," mother-of-three Hamidah told the agency.

Mr Clinton will also visit rows of bare temporary housing built as an emergency measure after the tsunami, but which charities estimate still house some 70,000 people, the BBC's Lucy Williamson reports from Jakarta.

Other stops will include a transitional housing project and a recently completed school.

He is also expected to hold meetings with representatives from the Indonesian government and the former separatist group, GAM, our correspondent adds.

The two sides signed a peace deal last year that was widely attributed to the impact of the tsunami.

On Friday, work began on placing the first of a planned network of tsunami early warning buoys in the Indian Ocean.

The buoy, to be placed between Thailand and Sri Lanka, is able to detect sudden increases in pressure deep under the sea and give coastal communities early warning of a tsunami.

It is hoped that eventually a network of 24 buoys will extend to Indonesia and Australia, along the deep and unstable fault-line that caused the 2004 earthquake.

Muslim and Roman Catholic priests joined Buddhist monks in presiding over the burials

Monks pray during a burial ceremony of the unidentified victims

Monks pray during a burial ceremony of the unidentified victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, at Bang Muang Cemetery, 788 km (490 miles) south of Bangkok.

The cemetery is in the northern province of Phang Nga, north of Phuket, one of the hardest hit area by the December 26 tsunami, two years ago.


The bodies were transferred to metal coffins for burial

After the ceremony, the bodies were transferred to metal coffins and lowered into a mass grave, with plain concrete slabs separating the resting place of each.


Wednesday 6th December, 2006

Thailand began burying the last of its unidentified victims of the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on Wednesday not far from the beaches on which they were killed.

The authorities chose a multi-faith ceremony for the 410 unidentified bodies; most are believed to belong to migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar employed in the tourist industry.

“Wednesday started with Buddhist, Christian and Islamic religious ceremonies and the actual burial started shortly afterwards,” said police Colonel Khemmarin Hassiri, the head of the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification unit.

Muslim and Roman Catholic priests joined Buddhist monks in presiding over the burials in big concrete chambers from which well protected bodies could be retrieved easily if DNA samples and other evidence kept by researchers produced an identity.

Eleven aluminium coffins were interred in each concrete chamber cut into the sandy soil of a cemetery 3 km (2 miles) The aluminium coffins and concrete chambers capped by 500 kg would preserve the bodies from the hot, humid climate.

DNA samples and other evidence from each body would allow investigators to continue searching for identities

"If relatives wanted to pick up the bodies in the future, then we could dig them out easily," TTVI official Police Lieutenant Wiwat Sidhisorudej said.

Most of the unidentified victims were believed to be Thai or migrant workers from Myanmar who were among the 5,395 people, half of them foreign holidaymakers, killed by the tsunami in Thailand, where it left almost 3,000 people missing.

The bodies of victims who have been identified but not yet collected will remain in storage, Colonel Khemmarin said. “We will keep them in temperature-controlled containers waiting for their relatives to collect them,” he added.

Tourism is steadily recovering after the 2004 tsunami.

Tourism is slowly recovering after the 2004 tsunami

In summary:

The December 26, 2004, tsunami affected most coastlines around the Indian Ocean but hit especially hard Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.

The total number of known victims stands at around 226,000 but tens of thousands of people are still missing. Three to five million were displaced.

The giant wave hit the coast of Thailand killing some 5,400 people. Roughly half of the victims in Thailand were foreign holidaymakers. Tourism was badly hit as a result, but it is now almost back to pre-tsunami levels.

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