The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
The United Nations is setting up camps in Indonesia to house up to five-hundred-thousand refugees. Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the earthquake that caused tsunamis to flood highly-populated coastal areas. More than ninety-thousand Indonesians perished, most of them in Aceh province. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the region:
"With respect to what I've seen in the course of my career, I've been in war and I've been in a number of hurricanes, tornados and other relief operations. But I have never seen anything like this".
More than three-billion dollars in aid has been pledged to help survivors in the twelve countries affected by the tidal waves. Of that total, the United States is contributing three-hundred-fifty-million dollars.
In Indonesia, the U.S. has also committed more than thirteen-thousand troops and fourteen ships to deliver supplies, restore electric power, provide drinkable water, and supply medical and engineering help. Helicopters from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln are flying aid missions to isolated areas that cannot be reached by road.
A fourteen year-old who identified himself to a Washington Post reporter as Mukhlis, a resident of the Indonesian town of Lamno, is one recipient of food delivered by a U.S. helicopter. Mukhlis says "The situation is safe now, and we have enough to eat."
Mr. Powell says that more U.S. helicopters are on the way:
"We will be increasing the number of helicopters that will be available. . . .and we will respond to requests we get from the Indonesian authorities for shelter materials and food."
The United States government, says Secretary of State Powell, will do everything it can "to help the Indonesian government in relieving human suffering and in also beginning the reconstruction process."