As the death toll continues to rise in the tsunami-affected countries of South Asia, desperately needed relief supplies are starting to reach some of the people in need. The U.S. military says it has delivered more than 200 tons of supplies so far. But, the United Nations says getting supplies to remote villages is proving difficult.
On Tuesday the USS Lincoln began delivering aid to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, one of the hardest hit areas. It was near the epicenter of the earthquake.
The United Nations says getting relief supplies to Sumatra is its main priority. But, UN logistical official Isabelle de Muyser-Boucher says the UN is facing problems distributing aid. She says, "We absolutely need more C17 airplanes, three or four of them for one month. We are very dependent on governments to provide us with these. The only governments who have this airplane are the US and UK."
The United States says there are more than 13,000 American military personnel giving relief support to nations affected by the Asian tsunami.
The commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Thomas Fargo, says more personnel and ships are pouring into the region. He says ships that can treat drinking water and carry engineering supplies are on the way. "We're moving environmental preventative medicine units into the area because we recognize that disease could be a factor and we want to get a head start on this," he said.
So far the U.S. has pledged $350 million dollars to the relief efforts and White House spokesman Scott McClean says many Americans are making private contributions. "We've seen a tremendous outpouring of support from the American people over the last week," he said. High school students from the mid-western state of Ohio are traveling to an orphanage in India. They are bringing 35 tons of relief supplies with them.
One of the students, Katie Johnston says, "It's a little nervous, nerve wracking, going over there, like, it was such a big disaster but I think it's good that we can go and help them provide some relief to do something for them."
As the search and rescue comes to a close, attention has shifted to the relief effort -- and millions of people all over the world are doing what they can to help.