BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – The death toll in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster has soared above 120,000 as millions scramble for food and fresh water and thousands more flee in panic to high ground on rumours of new waves.
Aid agencies warned on Thursday that many more, from Indonesia to Sri Lanka, could die in epidemics if shattered communications and transport hampered what may prove history’s biggest relief operation.
Rescue workers pressed on into isolated villages shattered by a disaster that could yet eclipse a cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991, killing 138,000 people.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for an emergency meeting of the Group of Eight so that the rich nations club could discuss aid and possible debt reduction following “the worst cataclysm of the modern era”.
The total toll had shot up more than 50 percent in a day with still no clear picture of conditions in some isolated islands and villages around India and Indonesia.
So it seems the death toll will probably rise even further. Serious questions must be asked as to whether and how the death toll could have been avoided via e.g. an early warning system. In the meantime the aid efforts continue.