New York (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The death toll from the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean could rise to 200,000 from the current figure of about 150,000, a United Nations (UN) official coordinating humanitarian relief has said.
While the relief effort continued to make "great strides," Kevin Kennedy, director of the Coordination and Response Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, acknowledged it had not yet met the urgent needs of many victims.
The death toll from the disaster has already surpassed 152,000 and eventually could go as high as 200,000, "but this will be seen in the coming days," he said. He made the forecast while outlining new UN measures in its global tsunami relief campaign to guard against improprieties like those alleged in the oil-for-food program for Iraq. Among the measures are a way to let the public to track every aid dollar via a website and the drafting of new rules to protect UN staff whistleblowers. Some $US4 billion has been pledged to date for tsunami aid by governments, international agencies and private relief groups.
At least 152,221 people have been reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast from an earthquake and massive tsunami that smashed coastlines on Dec. 26. Death tolls by country: Indonesia 105,522; Sri Lanka 30,721; India 10,136; Thailand 5,291; Somalia 298; Myanmar 90; Maldives 82 ; Malaysia 68; Tanzania 10; Bangladesh 2; Kenya 1.