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12/29/04 - U.S. AIDS TSUNAMI VICTIMS - 2004-12-30

As President George W. Bush said, "the American people are shocked and. . .saddened by the terrible loss of life from the recent earthquake and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean." At least eighty-thousand people are reported to have been killed, and the death toll could climb much higher. The hardest-hit countries include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. The earthquake-driven waves also killed people in Burma, Malaysia, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and even as far away as Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Along with other countries, the U.S. is rushing aid to survivors. President Bush says the U.S. has made an initial pledge of thirty-five million dollars in assistance:

"We have deployed disaster experts to the region. . . . As well, we're dispatching a Marine expeditionary unit, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, and the Maritime pre-position squadron from Guam to the area to help with relief efforts."

Secretary of State Colin Powell is working with his counterparts in Japan, India, Australia, and other countries to build a coalition for immediate humanitarian relief and long-term recovery and reconstruction. While tens of thousands of people lost their lives in only a few moments, says Mr. Powell, "the lingering effects will be there for years":

"The rebuilding of schools and other facilities, will take time. So you need a quick infusion to stabilize the situation, take care of those who have been injured, get immediate relief supplies in, and then you begin planning for the longer haul."

President Bush says, "These past few days have brought loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension":

"The United States will continue to stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims. We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities."

Together, says Mr. Bush, "we will prevail over this destruction."