The United Nation's food agency has tripled the amount of emergency aid it is seeking for Niger, saying more is needed to save 2.5 million people from extreme hunger.

The World Food Program said Wednesday it now needs more than $57 million for its operations in Niger.  It says this is the third time in six months it has raised its appeal.

Executive Director James Morris says if donors had responded earlier, the cost of the operation would be greatly reduced.  He said the situation has deteriorated severely over recent months.

The agency says donations only started flowing recently after television pictures showed images of starving children.

Tuesday, Niger's President, Mamadou Tandja, thanked humanitarian agencies for sending emergency aid and said Niger's food crisis is improving.

Some information for this report\ provided by AP.