12/31/2004, 00.00
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International community mobilising for south and south-east Asia

"So far little aid has arrived; we need more time," says UN official.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The international community is getting together to organise aid operations in tsunami-stricken south and south-east Asia.

Weeks will pass before a final death count will be available. Meanwhile, the death toll from Sunday's deadly sudden surge stands at over 120,000, mostly in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

The World Health Organisation warns that five million people are on the edge of survival. The emergency, which has elicited an unprecedented response in the public at large, now requires international coordination.

Indonesia's Foreign Minister announced today that Jakarta will host a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, on January 6, to discuss the devastation caused by the December 26 tsunami.

"This is an unprecedented global catastrophe, and it requires an unprecedented global response," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday at the end of a meeting with world leaders at the UN.

Mr Annan is scheduled to meet today US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and will travel to the affected areas on Sunday.

The UN has acknowledged that only some of the aid has reached the survivors.

Jan Egeland, UN's emergency relief coordinator, said that the world body is doing little for the time being. "It might take 48 to 72 hours more to provide assistance to local populations," he said.

Colin Powell will also travel to the region with US president George W. Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, who is  experienced in natural disasters. Just this year, his state was hit by three major hurricanes.

Italy has proposed convening a special G-8 summit to discuss aid and debt reduction for the affected countries, but UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that aid coordination falls to the United Nations, not the G-8.

The earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale provoked a devastating tsunami that hit twelve countries around the Indian Ocean in south-eastern Asia and eastern Africa.

Here is the latest death toll per country:

Indonesia: 79.940;

Sri Lanka: 27.268;

India: 11.330;

Thailand: 4.510;

Somalia: 120;

Myanmar: 90;

Maldives: 67;

Malaysia: 65;

Tanzania: 10; S

Seychelles: 1;

Bangladesh: 2;

Kenya: 1.

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