Powell Heading for Tsunami Disaster Areas



World leaders will meet in Indonesia Thursday to discuss aid for victims of last week's earthquake and tsunami disasters. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell has left for Asia to visit some of the stricken areas in Thailand and Indonesia before going to the Jakarta conference.

Shortly before departing Sunday, Secretary Powell told CNN's Late Edition he believes the U.S. response to the devastation in Asia was prompt and generous. "This disaster took place just seven days ago. And during the first 24 hours, I called every single foreign minister of the affected nations, and said to them, the United States wants to help, the President stands ready to help. You let our embassies know what you need," he said.

The death toll from the 9.0 earthquake and the following tsunami is expected to surpass 150,000 people, in countries surrounding the Indian Ocean.

Washington has pledged $350 million in relief aid. But Secretary Powell said the U.S. contribution surpasses the official monetary figure. "Beyond the $350 million, our Department of Defense is spending tens of millions of dollars more, as we dispatched two carrier groups, a regular big aircraft carrier groups and a Marine amphibious group, to the region. And private donations are significant," he said.

The U.S. delegation to the stricken area includes President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, who is the governor of Florida. The southeastern state was devastated by four hurricanes this year.

Speaking on the ABC television program This Week, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said he believes it will take years for some countries to recover. "It will differ from country to country, but my own sense is you probably have five to 10 years, and billions of dollars, because the devastation is enormous," he said.

The U.N. leader also will go to the international aid conference in Jakarta. Afterwards, U.N. officials say Mr. Annan will visit the hard-hit Indonesian island of Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization's David Nabarro told CNN caring for the injured is at the top of his agenda. "That's priority one. But then, for the whole population, as you've said, it's clean water. We've got to make sure water supplies are not polluted with feces and that sanitation is improved. Perhaps that's proving to be particularly challenging in Indonesia, and it's not easy in Sri Lanka," he said.

Dr. Nabarro said the WHO is worried about cholera and dysentery, but has no confirmed reports of either illness yet. "And malaria incidence is not yet noted on the increase, but we are very worried about Aceh, because it's the rainy season, and it's the time when malaria does start to pick up. So, at the moment, [we hope], we have not got reports of epidemics, but it would be foolish of us to assume we're through the worst. Indeed, it's during the next week that we really have to be most concerned," he said.

Dr. Nabarro said there has been an increase in the number of cases of diarrhea in stricken areas around the region. The head of the United Nations Children's Fund, Carol Bellamy, told CNN diarrhea is especially a problem for children. "Diarrhea is something we've all had if we've traveled. But in children, it can lead to dehydration and to death. And this is something that can have an enormous impact on children," she said.

The Indonesian ambassador to the United States, Boemadi Brotodiningrat, listed other priorities. "Well, apart from food and medicines, we need shelter, because there are so many buildings which are destroyed. So, all those refugees are sheltered basically in the open area and we need tents for them," he said.

The Indonesian ambassador said his country also needs international help developing better communications.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs