Washington The United States dispatched disaster specialists and pledged an initial $15 million Monday to Asian countries struck by a massive earthquake and tsunamis.
"This is indeed an international tragedy, and we are going to do everything we can," Secretary of State Colin Powell said.
At least eight Americans had perished in the catastrophe that swept South and East Asia without warning, and U.S. Embassies were trying to locate hundreds of others who had not been heard from, Powell said at a news conference.
From his ranch in Crawford, Texas, President Bush directed letters of condolence to the leaders of the seven countries wracked by the disaster.
"This is a terrible tragedy," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. "There is a significant loss of life. And our thoughts and prayers are with all those who are suffering."
Powell made condolence telephone calls and offered American assistance to the foreign ministers of Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Ambassadors gave $100,000 each to India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and Powell said $4 million would be given to the Red Cross.
"This is not just a one-time thing," Powell said. "Some 20,000-plus lives have been lost in a few moments, but the lingering effects will be there for years -- the damage that was caused. The rebuilding of schools and other facilities will take time."
U.S. government specialists in disaster relief were sent to Thailand and Indonesia, and others will be spread out through the region. Supplies of shelter, food and water cans kept in reserve in the Philippines and in Dubai will be distributed, according to Ed Fox, assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Millions of people who were displaced will need shelter, food and clothing, Fox added. The $15 million U.S. contribution was an initial one, he said, issued while surveys were conducted.
The Australian government pledged $7.6 million in immediate aid.
A spokesman at U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii said Monday that in addition to three Navy P-3 Orion surveillance planes sent to Thailand, the military also is loading five or six Air Force C-130 cargo planes with tents, clothing, food and other humanitarian goods for delivery to Thailand.
Pacific Command also is assembling small assessment teams that will be dispatched to three countries in the region to assess how U.S. military resources can best be applied in those countries.
Pacific Command spokesman Lt. Col. William Bigelow said he was not authorized to identify the three countries, but other government officials said they were Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.
And James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, said bank teams were discussing potential assistance with the governments of the countries that suffered losses.
|The Associated PressThe following are some of the aid agencies accepting contributions for assistance that they or their affiliates are providing for those affected by the earthquake and tidal waves in Asia. U.S. organizations are members of InterAction, a coalition of relief, development and refugee assistance agencies.CARE151 Ellis St. NEAtlanta, GA 30303www.care.orgInternational Medical CorpsTsunami Emergency Response1919 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 300Santa Monica, CA 90404-1950www.imcworldwide.orgInternational Relief TeamsAsia Earthquake/Floods3547 Camino Del Rio South, Suite CSan Diego, CA 92108www.IRTeams.orgOxfam AmericaAsian Earthquake FundPO Box 1211Albert Lea, MN 56007-1211www.oxfamamerica.orgSAWSO (Salvation Army World Service Office)South Asia Relief Fund615 Slaters LaneAlexandria, VA, 22313Stop Hunger NowSE Asia crisis2501 Clark Ave, Suite 200Raleigh, NC 27607www.stophungernow.orgUS Fund for UNICEFGeneral Emergency Fund333 E. 38th St.New York, NY 10016www.unicefusa.orgYou also can visit the International Cross Web site at www.icrc.org.|