Asian quake: Hopes faded for still missing people

Indian Ocean states from Indonesia to &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Sri Lanka scrambled on Tuesday to cope with the widespread devastation of a tsunami that killed over 23,000 people and could claim more lives through disease and privation.

The &to=http:// ' target=_blank>United Nations said hundreds of relief planes packed with emergency goods would be heading for the region from some two dozen countries within the next 48 hours. The sheer scale of Sunday's disaster, however, is still unclear amid the chaos.

"The cost of the devastation will be in the billions of dollars," said Jan Egeland, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"However, we cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages…that have just been wiped out. Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have gone", says ABC News.

Hopes faded for many thousands more still missing. Massive rescue operations were scrambled along Asia’s devastated coastlines as billions of dollars worth of damage was caused by the disaster and the humanitarian relief operation needed to help victims would have to be the biggest ever mounted, an official at the United Nations said.

Horrific scenes of destruction met emergency teams as bodies piled up by the hour from Sri Lanka to India, Indonesia to Thailand, while international aid agencies rushed food and clothing to hundreds of thousands left homeless.

Hundreds of rescue ships, helicopters and planes were mobilized to evacuate tourists from wrecked resorts and airlift stricken victims to hospitals already overflowing with the injured and corpses, as Arab News has reported.

According to the Bloomberg, the database, maintained by the Brussels-based Université Catholique de Louvain's Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of &to=http:// 21/97/385/11026_disaster.html ' target=_blank>Disasters, shows that between 1970 and last year, droughts, quakes, epidemics, extreme temperature, famines, floods, insect infestations, landslides, volcanic eruptions, waves, wildfires and storms caused damage worth $413 billion in Asia.

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