Asian Tsunami: Number of dead rises to 60 000

The sea and wreckage of coastal towns around the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Indian Ocean yielded up tens of thousands of bodies on Tuesday, pushing the toll from Sunday's tsunami close to 60,000.

The apocalyptic destruction caused by the ocean surge dwarfed the efforts of governments and relief agencies as they recovered countless corpses while trying to treat survivors and take care of millions of homeless, increasingly threatened by disease amid the rotting remains. Thousands more were injured.

The United Nations launched what it called an unprecedented relief effort to assist nations hit by a devastating tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 undersea &to=http:// ' target=_blank>earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

In a further threat to the region, disease could kill as many people as those killed by the wall of water, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official said, informs Reuters.

In Sri Lanka, the toll also mounted. Workers pulled 802 bodies out of a train that was flung off its tracks when the gigantic waves hit. Two hundred of the bodies — unclaimed by relatives — were buried Tuesday in a mass grave next to the tracks, which had been lifted and twisted like a roller coaster by the raging water.

"Is this the fate that we had planned for? My darling, you were the only hope for me," cried one man for his dead girlfriend — his university sweetheart — as &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Buddhist monks held prayer nearby.

More than 18,700 people died in Sri Lanka, more than 4,400 in India and more than 1,500 in Thailand, with numbers expected to rise. Scores were also killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives. The giant waves raced nearly 3,000 miles to east Africa, causing deaths in Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles, wrote the Associated Press.

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