U.N.: Tsunami death toll tops 150,000

Jan. 10, 2005 at 4:26 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The United Nations says the death toll from the Indian Ocean tsunami two weeks ago is more than 150,000.

Kevin Kennedy, director of coordination and response for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the total death toll in the 12 South Asian nations affected by the Dec. 26 catastrophe "now exceeds 150,000 and could go as high as 200,000."

The number of dead in Indonesia alone had topped 115,000, he told reporters at U.N. World Headquarters in New York.

He said the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and Sumatra, accounting for more than two-thirds of the deaths, remain the "focus of effort, the center of gravity," with logistics the major challenge because of two days of rain and broken infrastructure.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, on the relief operation, we're probably at about 7.5 to 8 across the board," Kennedy said. "I can't tell you that we've actually reached every spot but we're closing in, if you will, on the spots we've not reached before, particularly on the western coast of Sumatra, with great help from the foreign militaries and utilizing their helicopters."

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