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Asia Struggles to Cope With Tsunami Aftermath - 2004-12-28


Emergency crews in southern Asian countries devastated by Sunday's massive earthquake and tsunamis continue to recover bodies scattered by the tragedy.

The reported death toll is now approaching 40,000 after the 9.0 magnitude quake and tidal waves that followed. Officials in various Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal coastline countries say many people are still missing, and the toll will climb as searchers reach new areas. Many tourists are among the victims.

Health officials are warning of the danger of disease caused by unsanitary conditions. Morgues in the region have been overwhelmed by bodies. Many victims have been buried in mass graves.

The hardest-hit countries include Sri Lanka, where nearly 19,000 people are known to have died, and Indonesia, which has reported more than 7,000 deaths. Indonesian Vice President Yusuf Kalla estimates the death toll in the country could climb as high as 25,000.

Thailand has counted 1,000 dead, but officials warn as many as 2,000 people may have perished. India has reported at least 7,500 dead.

Deaths were also reported in several other countries, including Malaysia, the Maldives, Burma, Bangladesh and Somalia.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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