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Thursday 30 December 2004

Sri Lanka struggling to distribute disaster aid, minister says

Sri Lankan officials are battling shock and logistical problems as they try to distribute food and medicine to areas hardest hit by the weekend's massive tsunamis, the nation's foreign minister said Tuesday.

"The U.S. is sending helicopters. India is sending ships. ... A great deal is coming in and they are having a few problems at the moment coordinating it," said Lakshman Kadirgamar, who was on an official visit to Beijing. "The scale (of the disaster) is so vast and the casualties are so high that I think everybody's still in a state of shock."

More than 15,000 people in Sri Lanka were killed by huge tidal waves that pummeled the island following a massive earthquake in Indonesia on Sunday. Region wide, the death toll has surpassed 25,000. The death toll was sure to shoot higher, Kadirgamar said, citing the fact that many people remained missing.

China on Tuesday sent a plane carrying US$610,000 (€448,000) in tents, blankets and food plus US$200,000 (€147,000) in cash to India and Sri Lanka, the government's Xinhua News Agency said. China has made an initial pledge of US$2.6 million (€1.9 million) in aid to the affected countries. China and Sri Lanka are close allies. Their ties go back centuries due to their shared Buddhist traditions.

Source: http://www.voiceoflanka.com/
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