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Africa Assesses Impact of Tsunami


Scores of people have died in tidal waves that hit Africa's eastern coast after Sunday's massive earthquake in southern Asia. In Tanzania, officials say at least 10 swimmers died when they were swept out to sea Sunday near the beach at Dar es Salaam. Police say most of the dead are children.

At least two people were killed in the island nation of Seychelles, and several others are reported missing. One tourist was killed in the Kenyan coastal town of Malindi. Sunday's massive waves also left parts of the Mauritian island of Rodrigues under water.

Aid workers and one Somali official say around 50 people are reported dead in northeastern Somalia, but some reports put the death toll at more than 100. In the capital, Mogadishu, the Associated Press says waves traveled three kilometers inland along river beds. Dozens of fishermen are reported missing. No deaths were reported in Mogadishu itself, although the port is reported to be damaged. Somali presidential spokesman Yusuf Mohammed Ismail says there are hundreds of people displaced all along the country's indian ocean coast. He told reporter William eagle the worst hit region is in the northern state of Puntland – which he says declared a state of emergency today.

Meanwhile, several South African tourists are reported missing. At least two have been confirmed killed in Phuket island off Thailand. The South African Mail and Guardian newspaper says a rescue team planned to fly to Phuket today to bring 198 people home. The South african government says those inquiring about missing friends and relatives can call an emergency operation center set up in Pretoria. The number is Pretoria city code 12, followed by 351-00-35. The last two digits can also be replaced by 50, 63, and 64.

The Associated Press says the US State Department also has established a toll-free number for inquiries about missing Americans. The international number outside the US is (317) 472-2328. Within the US, citizens can call toll free at: (888) 407-4747. Those seeking information can also contact the department’s Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management in Washington at: (202) 647-5225. General information about disaster relief to US citizens abroad can be found on the state department web page at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/crisismg.html.

Meanwhile, the South African Press Agency reports that despite the tragedy, at least one African leader is continuing his plans to travel to Asia. Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has reportedly left Harare with his family for a holiday in Malaysia. The 80-year-old head of state is said to enjoy a close relationship with former Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamed. President Mugabe has said he wants to develop stronger economic and political ties with Asia to replace his deteriorating relationship with western countries – which have moved to isolate him for his government’s poor human rights record.

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