Tsunami Death Toll Rises; Indonesia Hardest Hit with Nearly 100,000 Dead

With tales of survival few and far between, health ministry officials in Indonesia have now said the death toll in that country from last Sunday’s killer earthquake and tsunamis has topped 94,000. With those recently released figures, officials now report the overall death toll for nearly a dozen nations has risen to approximately 155,000.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush left Sunday to tour the devastated regions, there was some good news originating from one of history’s worst disasters.

A fisherman from Sumatra was found alive beneath his beached boat, making him the first survivor located in three days. His story, however, was one of the few to apparently culminate with a happy ending.

As relief supplies continue to pour in from all corners of the world, officials and volunteers continue to remove dead bodies and attempt to repair damaged homes, hotels and other structures that were hit a week ago Sunday.

Japan has contributed some $500 million in relief aid to the cause to date, with the United States adding $350 million. White House officials said that figure could very well go up as needs are reviewed.

Militaries from a number of nations are doing their best to aid the survivors. Along with Australian and Indian military help, helicopters from the USS Abraham Lincoln steaming off shore have been flying missions back-and-forth to drop off supplies.

Tens of thousands of people remain missing, including many Europeans who were escaping the cold weather to vacation in places like Thailand and Sri Lanka. To date, 14 Americans have been reported killed (see Editor’s note for more information on missing Americans).

In an ironic twist, some vacationers in the impacted areas continued their vacations over the weekend, spotted on television resting on beaches and sitting underneath umbrellas on the shore.

Editor’s note: A number of sites have popped up in efforts to locate missing Americans. Among them is www.tsunamimissingamericans.blogspot.com/