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Aid Slow To Tsunami Victims As Death Toll Tops 80,000

30 December 2004 -- The United Nations says just a fraction of the massive quantities of aid destined for the tsunami-devastated areas in southern Asia has actually reached those who most need it.

With the death toll now at more than 80,000, UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said it will take up to several days more to effectively help tens of thousands of survivors. He said some 5 million people are in need. Many of them are weak through exhaustion and hunger.

Australian official Bill Patterson, speaking in Thailand, called the task daunting.

"It is going to be a huge operation," Patterson said. "Clearly, we are four days out from this event already. Bodies are lying unrefrigerated, deteriorating rapidly. The Thai authorities have done an excellent job, I think, in extraordinary difficult circumstances. This would challenge the most developed country in the world, the scale of this problem."

Countries around the world have so far pledged at least $220 million toward aid efforts.

In India today, people were fleeing southern coastal areas after authorities warned that aftershocks from the 26 December tsunami might result in another deadly tsunami.