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Annan Continues Tour Of Tsunami Sites

PRAGUE, Jan 8 (NCA) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew by helicopter today over the southeast of Sri Lanka to see firsthand the devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

He landed in Hambantota, a popular tourist resort now largely ruined, where he was met by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

"It's a beautiful country," Annan said. "I did see the damage, but I also saw the beauty of the country. Obviously, we need to work with the government to rebuild what has been damaged. But I did like the beauty of your country as well, Mr. Prime Minister."

The lives of thousands of Sri Lankans are in ruins following last month's disaster, but hard work and outside help have started to make a difference.

The United Nations says that by this weekend, relief workers will get at least some supplies to "every person in need" on the island, a figure officials put at 750,000.

But in hardest-hit Indonesia, rescue workers are still pulling thousands of bodies out of the rubble and mud -- while others are struggling to reach survivors and provide for their needs.

Remote Aceh Province, along Sumatra's west coast, bore the brunt of the disaster.

Yesterday, Annan saw for himself the destruction there. He said he'd never seen anything like it.

The UN's World Food Program today described plans to feed as many as 2 million survivors a day for the next six months.

Executive Director James Morris said they will focus on pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children.

And the biggest operation will be in Indonesia, where 150,000 people are already getting emergency rations of rice and other staple foods.

"That number [in Indonesia] in the matter of two, three, four days will go to 300,000," Morris said. "[In] a matter of five, six, seven days [it] will go to 400,000. And depending on the extent of the damage on down the western coast, the numbers here could go to as high as 1 million. I am hopeful that will not be the case."

Indonesia's death toll has risen to more than 104,000.

That accounts for two-thirds of the more than 150,000 people who died in the disaster.

And authorities from Indonesia and other Indian Ocean rim countries are holding out little hope for thousands more still missing.

(news agencies/RFE/RL)