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Aid Workers Race Against the Clock


As the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of South Asia keeps rising, emergency teams turn their focus toward rescuing and providing food and shelter to the living. The confirmed death toll is nearing 90,000, and expected to climb to more than 100,000.

Aid workers are warning that the true scale of Sunday's tsunami may never be known. Relief experts say thousands of people remain missing and parts of the 12 affected nations remain inaccessible.

Perhaps the biggest concern facing rescue teams: the spread of disease. Some experts have said as many people could die from illnesses as those who perished in the devastation. Rescue workers are racing against time to find those trapped beneath the debris.

Suwit Khunkitti, the Thai Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, said, “Anything can happen. When these kinds of things have happened everywhere in the world, some people have lived for nine days, without food and water, even if injured.” He added, “So we keep our hopes high and we fight for it."

As international aid continues to arrive across the region, terrified survivors are dealing with more fear -- the threat of additional tsunamis, triggered by aftershocks. Tens of thousands of residents fled coastal areas in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, after Indian officials issued tsunami warnings. Later, they withdrew those warnings.

An estimated 5.7 magnitude aftershock was recorded by the Hong Kong observatory in seas northwest of Sumatra Thursday morning. Other quakes were recorded earlier near India's Andaman and Nicobar islands.