18 January 2005 -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the world to learn from the South Asian tsunami disaster.
He said more money spent now on disaster risk reduction could limit the loss of life and damage later from natural disasters.
Annan's comments come in a video message played at the opening today of a UN conference on disaster prevention. The five-day meeting is taking place in Kobi, Japan, which is marking the 10th anniversary of a powerful earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people.
Talks at the Kobe conference are expected to focus on the creation of a tsunami early-warning system for the Indian Ocean. The lack of such a system is blamed for some of deaths from the 26 December tsunami.
More than 175,000 people were killed and millions left homeless by the disaster.
Meanwhile, a major UN report on world poverty has urged a vast increase in development aid to the world's poorest countries.
The new UN report says more than 500 million people could be lifted out of poverty, 250 million people would no longer be facing the threat of hunger, and 30 million children could be saved if rich countries double development aid over the next 10 years.
The report by 265 experts was presented yesterday to UN Secretary-General Annan.
The report adds that trade rules need to be changed and infrastructure developed in poorer countries to allow them to compete. It also calls for financing of workable poverty-reduction schemes put forward by the poorest nations themselves.