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Aid on Way to Region, Grim News Increases


The number of people believed dead or missing from Sunday's earthquake and tsunami in southern Asia is still climbing. The overall death toll is nearing 70,000, but U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says it could increase by tens of thousands once rescue crews and aid workers gain access to the most remote areas. Aid from around the world is pouring into the region.

Governments worldwide have pledged tens of millions of dollars to help the victims of the disaster, as emergency workers continue to recover tens of thousands of bodies, and give shelter and aid to the living.

In Sri Lanka, bulldozers worked round the clock to dig mass graves, which are quickly being filled with bodies. Officials in Galle, one of the most devastated areas of the island, advised residents to lay bodies on roads for collection and burial. Thousands are still missing, and efforts to find them are hampered by destroyed railways, roads, and telephone networks.

In the Indonesian province of Aceh, eight buses were swamped by waves from the tsunami, killing an estimated 400 people heading to an airport to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Supplies are being airlifted into many regions. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has appealed for an additional 44 million dollars in aid. Red Cross officials say Sunday's tragedy is the largest catastrophe the aid group has seen in decades.