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UN Chief Will Visit Indonesia - 2005-01-02


The United Nations says Secretary-General Kofi Annan will visit Indonesia next week.

UN officials say Mr. Annan has accepted an invitation to travel to the capital city of Jakarta and make a worldwide appeal for relief for the victims of last Sunday's tsunami.

Word of the invitation comes as the UN says pledges from around the world have topped two billion dollars, helped by Japan's pledge of $500 million dollars on Saturday -- the biggest of its kind to date.

Jan Egeland, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, says logistics are proving to be "the biggest constraints" in getting emergency supplies to the victims. Mr. Egeland says there is a struggle to deliver the food, water and medical supplies because roads, bridges and airstrips in the hardest hit areas have been badly damaged.

He says there is an urgent need for helicopters, air traffic control units, cargo airplanes, boats, and several hundred trucks.

Mr. Egeland says the death toll from the tsunami is likely to exceed 150,000 -- but concedes the real numbers may never be known because so many people were washed out to sea.

The U.S. military began delivering aid to villages on Indonesia's hard-hit island of Sumatra. There, hungry and homeless villagers mobbed helicopters carrying supplies.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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