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Somalia's Puntland Region Hit Worst by Tsunami

In Somalia, nearly 300 people perished in the tidal wave that accompanied the Indian Ocean quake. Also destroyed were homes, wells, fishing boats and equipment that provided livelihood for thousands of families. Among the hardest hit areas was the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in the northeastern corner of the country. Somali presidential spokesman Yusuf Mohammed Ismail says about 50 thousand people are displaced, many in inland villages with few roads and little infrastructure. However, he says the US and German military have been using helicopters to get fresh water and other supplies to the survivors. Among the highest priorities is providing communities with potable water to counteract cholera and other water borne diseases.

Mr. Ismail told VOA’s William Eagle that some survivors say the tidal wave and the preceding drought are God’s punishments for long years of civil war. Mr. Ismail disagreed -- saying long years of civil war contributed to the failure to build a warning system and infrastructure to evacuate civilians in the case of danger. He says the Nairobi-based interim government is working hard to coordinate relief activity, and will be moving as soon as possible to Somalia.