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Annan Tours Tsunami’s Most Ravaged Area

Annan Tours Ground Zero Of Tsunami’s Most Ravaged Area

A day after launching the largest relief appeal ever in United Nations history for a natural disaster, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today visited the area most devastated by last week’s Indian Ocean tsunami and said: “I have never seen such utter destruction, mile after mile. You wonder where are the people?”

Mr. Annan made the comment after taking a helicopter tour with World Bank chief James Wolfensohn over Aceh, the worst-hit province on the north of Sumatra island in Indonesia, which accounted for about two thirds of the 150,000 people so far estimated to have died in the disaster.

The helicopter took them over the town of Meulaboh on Sumatra's west coast, just 150 kilomtres from the epicenter of the undersea earthquake that spawned tsunami on 26 December. UN officials have put the death toll there as high as one third of the town’s population of 120,000.

Yesterday in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Mr. Annan launched a $977 million flash appeal for immediate emergency aid, including food, clean drinking water, medicines and shelter for up to 5 millions survivors in five of the worst hit countries - Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and Somalia – and called on world leaders to pay in full the more than $3 billion dollars already been pledged for relief and reconstruction operations.

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