The true figure of tsunami deaths may never be known

The world poured money into tsunami-battered Asia Saturday, as aid workers, troops and grieving locals worked frantically to bury thousands of rotting corpses and help millions threatened by disease.

A legion of planes and ships brought aid to stricken areas around the Indian Ocean, but urgently needed supplies piled up at airports and warehouses, blocked by the destruction of roads, trucks, healthcare and telephone lines.

Six days after the massive &to=http:// 21/97/385/14768_tsunami.html ' target=_blank>earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered giant tsunami waves, the death toll stood at nearly 127,000 but that figure was expected to rise as more bloated bodies were found by the minute.

"We are working day and night, but the tragedy is bigger than anyone can imagine," Indonesia's Chief Social Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab told Reuters. "The aftermath is an even greater challenge and trauma", informs Reuters.

The rain pummelling the corpse-littered provincial capital was creating conditions ripe for cholera and other water-borne diseases to spread. Boxes of aid at Banda Aceh's airport soaked up water, making it difficult for workers loading cartons of drinking water, crackers and noodles onto delivery vehicles.

More amazing stories of survival emerged Saturday.

The Indonesian &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Red Cross reportedly dug out a survivor buried since the tsunami struck in the ruins of a house in Banda Aceh. The rescuers heard Ichsan Azmil's cries for help. After being pulled out, he asked for water and was taken to a hospital for treatment of cuts and bruises.

On India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, a woman who fled the killer waves gave birth in the forest that became her sanctuary. She named her son Tsunami, wrote The Globe and Mail.

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