Indonesia – From Bad To Worse

If you saw the tsunami video from Aceh here earlier this week, you’ll likely remember from the associated article that Indonesia is the country most devastated by the Sumatra earthquake and subsequent tsunamis. It turns out that the Indonesian government is not exactly welcoming those coming to help, even as the death toll in their country continues to climb to historic levels.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – An official document posted here says that nearly 210,000 people in Indonesia are dead or missing from the Dec. 26 tsunami, a death toll that appears to be far higher than officials have reported publicly. Rescue workers think even that number may be low.

The larger Indonesia toll would bring the total of dead and missing from the tidal surge across the Indian Ocean to nearly 272,000, ranking the tsunami as the fifth or sixth deadliest natural disaster in about 250 years.

The new death toll came as Indonesian officials restricted the movements of foreign relief workers, U.N. employees and journalists in devastated north Sumatra, the Indonesian island that took the brunt of the tsunami’s force, and said foreign military units would be allowed to work in the country for only a limited time.

Indonesia’s vice president told the United States and other nations that have sent troops to deliver relief that their forces won’t be permitted to remain in Sumatra longer than three months, and should leave as soon as their work is completed.Journalists on the ground in Aceh say that the army wants to re-establish control over the Aceh province, where the Indonesian military has been battling separatist rebels for decades. The area was completely off-limits to foreign aid and observers prior to the December 26, 2004 disaster.

Thanks to Wes Roth for the tip.

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