Death toll climbs
GALLE, Sri Lanka: (Reuters) The sea and wreckage of coastal towns around the Indian Ocean yielded up tens of thousands of bodies yesterday, 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 corpses.
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 earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
In Thailand, where thousands of tourists were enjoying a Christmas break to escape the northern winter, many of the country's paradise resorts were turned into graveyards.
In a French-run hotel at Khao Lak on the Thai mainland north of the island of Phuket, up to half the 415 guests were believed killed.
In Sri Lanka, hundreds of people were killed when the wave crashed into a train, wrecking eight carriages and uprooting the track it was travelling on. The train was called 'Sea Queen'.
Of the overall death toll so far of 59,186, Indonesia has suffered the biggest number of victims, with its Health Ministry reporting 27,174 dead while Sri Lanka reported around 19,000.
India's toll of 11,500 included at least 7000 on one archipelago, the Andamans and Nicobar. On one island, the surge of water killed two thirds of the population.
Hundreds of others died in the Maldives, Burma and Malaysia.