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Tsunami toll may near 150,000

The UN has cautioned that the true and absolute figure may never be known.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, United Nations
UPDATED ON JAN 01, 2005 06:23 PM IST

The death toll from the Asian tsunami disaster "may be approaching" 150,000, UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said, cautioning the true figure may never be known.

"What we see is that the figures may be approaching 150,000 dead. The vast majority of those are in Indonesia and Aceh, which is the least assessed area because of logistical constraints," Egeland told reporters on Friday.

"It may therefore rise further," he said.

"We will never, ever have the absolute, definite figure because there are many nameless fishermen and villages that have just gone, and we have no chance of finding out how many they were," he said.

Indonesia has emerged as the country worst affected by Sunday's huge earthquake off its western Sumatra Island and the tidal waves it spawned, accounting for more than two-thirds of the dead.

Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said on Friday that her officials had stopped trying to count the dead and would from now on give only general casualty estimates since the death toll was too large to provide an exact tally, the state Antara news agency said.

The ministry said earlier the final casualty number would likely reach up to 100,000.

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