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World reacts to tsunami disaster


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The death toll is expected to rise after tidal waves triggered by the quake.

The relationship between earthquakes and tsunamis.
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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australia has pledged $7.6 million (Aust. $10 million) in emergency aid to assist Asian nations struck by Sunday's tsunamis.

The federal government will review that figure as more information about the devastation unfolds and more money may be contributed, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said Monday.

Australia was also working to distribute critical resources such as bottled water and tarpaulins for temporary housing to affected countries, Downer told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

"We're looking for where the best place to distribute that kind of assistance might be," he said.

The government had reports of six Australians so far missing in the region hit by the waves, but Downer said there were fears were held for nationals vacationing in Sri Lanka, particularly the resorts region of Galle.

Elsewhere, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says that emergency support teams are ready to go if needed to help countries affected by the waves.

"For all the huge advances in the control of our lives through science and technology, an earthquake on this scale is truly humbling as well as profoundly tragic for everyone involved," Straw said.

He said messages of condolence have been sent to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

"For the tens of thousands of British tourists in southeast Asia and their relatives and friends here, this will, I know, be a very worrying time," he added.

"We are doing everything we can to assist, but the disruption to communication in the worst affected areas is inevitably making it difficult to confirm exactly the situation on the ground."

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has provided 1 million Swiss francs ($875,000) for immediate disaster relief, spokesman Peter Rees told CNN, and launched an appeal for an additional 7.5 million francs.

In addition, the European Community's humanitarian branch contributed 3 million euros.

The IFRC was attempting to determine the severity of situations in various countries, Rees said.

"What we'll need at the moment is a little bit of patience. It's extremely difficult to get good information."

Emergency health kits have been dispatched, he said, and additional supplies have been called up.

Fred Eckhard, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, said: "A U.N. disaster assessment and coordination team is being dispatched to Sri Lanka today to work with the government to provide rescue and relief."

The team would coordinate U.N. efforts to help victims in other countries as well, Eckhard said, adding that Annan "was profoundly saddened to learn of the massive loss of life and destruction caused by a series of earthquakes and tidal waves across Southeast Asia today."

In the United States, the White House released a statement from Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy saying the president "expresses his sincere condolences for the terrible loss of life and suffering caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis."

"The United States stands ready to offer all appropriate assistance to those nations most affected including Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, and Indonesia, as well as the other countries impacted," the statement said.

"Already relief is flowing to Sri Lanka and the Maldives."

The statement added that the United States would "work with the affected governments, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, and other concerned states and organizations to support the relief and response to this terrible tragedy."


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