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FWD: Indonesia quake toll leaps to more than 27,000

Written By Syafrein Effendiuz on 29/12/04 | Rabu, Disember 29, 2004


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This article is from The Star Online (http://thestar.com.my)
URL: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2004/12/29/asia/9769828&sec=asia


Wednesday December 29, 2004
Indonesia quake toll leaps to more than 27,000

BANDA ACEH (Indonesia): Indonesia's death toll leapt to more than 27,000 Tuesday as desperate SOS calls came from an obliterated coastline.

Great tracts of land remained under surging tides on the northwest tip of Sumatra island, 150km from the epicentre of the natural disaster which has claimed more than 55,000 lives, half of them in Indonesia.

As night fell three full days after the quake there was still no contact with many parts of the worst-affected area. Officials predicted the death toll could even triple as the full picture becomes clear.

A frantic appeal from what remained of the main west coast town of Meulaboh warned that looting was breaking out and starvation loomed for the few survivors unless aid was swiftly despatched.

But blocked roads, collapsed bridges, treacherous seas and fuel and vehicle shortages hampered relief efforts.

Indonesia's health ministry said in a statement yesterday that the toll had reached 27,174 as the dead were counted in Banda Aceh and the western areas of Meulaboh and Aceh Jaya.

There were apocalyptic scenes in the northernmost city of Banda Aceh where the stench of death hung over the rubble of demolished houses as survivors from Sunday's earthquake and tidal wave struggled to dig graves in tropical heat.

After returning from a reconnaissance flight over Meulaboh and nearby islands, Vice President Yusuf Kalla told journalists there appeared to be no sign of life in the town, which was home to 40,000 people. – AFP

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