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Concern for Tsunami Survivors as Relief Supplies Arrive - 2005-01-05


The flow of relief supplies into southern Asia is speeding up despite logistical difficulties, but concern for the condition of survivors of last week's earthquake and tsunami is growing.

United Nations officials call the global response to the disaster that has killed some 150,000 people "phenomenal." Pledges of aid from governments and individuals have passed two billion dollars.

The World Health Organization has warned that some five million people in the region face the threat of cholera and other diseases unless they get clean drinking water, medicine and other supplies. With an estimated 500,000 people needing medical treatment for their injuries, the agency called relief efforts a "race against time."

Helicopters have become the major lifeline for survivors needing supplies of food and water, as well as transportation to hospitals for treatment.

Indonesia's foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda, who accompanied U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on a brief aerial survey of hard hit Aceh province, praised the crucial role of U.S. armed forces helicopters in providing assistance to victims and survivors in remote and isolated areas.

Relief efforts have been slowed by heavy rains in eastern Sri Lanka and a lack of functional airstrips in Aceh.

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

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