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India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand: Earthquake and Tsunami OCHA Situation Report No. 10

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Date: 3 Jan 2005

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0002

OCHA Situation Report No. 10
Earthquake and Tsunami
India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand

  • Ms. Margareta Wahlstrom, the Special Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance to Tsunami affected communities, arrived in the Maldives and will proceed to Indonesia on 4 January 2005.

  • A consolidated regional UN Flash Appeal is scheduled to be launched on 6 January 2005 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

  • As of 3 January 2005, USD 1.5 billion has been reported to OCHA as pledged or committed contributions for the victims for the tsunami-affected communities (This figure does not include planned or announced loans).

  • The United Nations Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC) is providing an overview of air operations for this disaster, particularly for Indonesia, Maldives and Sri Lanka. The latest report is available at its website:

  • Latest figures are as follows:

100,000 (severely)
Sri Lanka



(The figures quoted in this report are official government figures).



The tsunami caused extensive damage in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the States of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and UT of Pondicherry. The tsunami affected a total of 2,260 kms of the coastline besides the entire Nicobar Islands.

The death toll reached 9,479 as of 3 January 2005. This might go up as many people are still missing persons/feared dead in the Nicobar group of islands.

Now the main focus is on the prevention of an outbreak of epidemics and relief and rescue operations in the affected areas with special attention to Nicobar group of Islands.

National Response:

The Government of India launched a huge relief operation involving the central Government, (Armed Forces, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Home Affairs, etc.) as well as the State Governments of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, the Nicobar group of Islands and the UT of Pondicherry. The Ministry of Home Affairs, the nodal Ministry of coordinating relief and response, is in constant touch with all the affected States/UTs as well as the concerned Ministries/Departments and Armed Forces. The control room is providing assistance through its Helpline to the public in and outside the country. A Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Home Affairs has been deputed to Car Nicobar to coordinate the massive relief and rescue operations there. A Cabinet Committee of Ministers has been set up under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister to review the relief and rehabilitation efforts on a continued basis.

Key coordination mechanisms:

The UN has been in close contact with the central Government as well as with the States/UTs on the possibility of UN providing support. A 24 Hour emergency operation centre has been established in the UNICEF Office in Chennai. It has been agreed that this office is the most appropriate focal point for information dissemination on behalf of the UN for relief operations.

In order to facilitate the response of various donors, NGOs and agencies who wish to contribute funds for the emergency, the NGOs network in Prakasham (Andhra Pradesh State) opened a bank account for receiving the funds. The account will be operated for six months and NGOs will document the use of the funds and share this with the donors.

International response:

UNICEF: Supplies are reaching camps as supply monitoring mechanisms are strengthened. Water tanks are installed and being used in camps in Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari. Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) is being distributed to camps. Measles and Vitamin A campaigns started in 13 districts including 3 in Kerala.



94,081 dead; 7,191 missing; more than a hundred thousand people living in temporary shelters and camps.

The situation in Banda Aceh overall is improving. The backlog of relief supplies is starting to clear.


Medan airport is still experiencing more congestion and storage shortage. Donors are urged to limit flying aid into Banda Aceh. Road transportation from Medan to Aceh is recommended. The road from South Sumatra to Medan via Padang is usable and has been used already by UNHCR with a Police escort. The port in Banda Aceh is totally destroyed and an assessment will be forthcoming.

The Airport in Meulaboh is open; a short airstrip has been cleared for use by Twin Otters or similar aircraft. Security of this site is yet to be assessed.

According to rapid UNDAC assessments, the quantity of relief coming in remains insufficient and meals are nutritionally unbalanced.

It is still difficult to make contact with Aceh and its surroundings by telecommunications.

International response:

A Boeing 747 is scheduled to take off early on 4 January from Dubai to Jakarta with 2,000 emergency 10 person tents from UNHCR’s Middle-East stockpiles.

A WFP/TNT convoy travelled from Medan to Aceh carrying 18 MT of fortified biscuits, 50 MT of rice and some fuel and water.

WHO is supporting in the areas of health assessments, disease surveillance and response, water and sanitation, maternal and child health and mental health. Priority is given to establishing a surveillance system with capacity for laboratory confirmation. WHO and UNICEF staff in Banda Aceh are working together to prepare the warehouse to store the supply of equipment and drugs.

UNFPA provided 4,500 hygiene kits amounting to USD 25,000 to be distributed to Nias Island, Aceh and Jakarta as well as 604 different types of reproductive health kits amounting to USD 370,000. UNFPA is undertaking a joint assessment on reproductive health needs with Ministry of Health between 2 and 6 January in Banda Aceh and western coast of Aceh.

Non Food items (100,000 blankets, 20,000 kitchen sets, 20,000 plastic sheeting, 20,000 jerry cans, 2,000 lightweight tents, 50,000 plastic sleeping mats) provided by UNHCR are en route to Aceh.

An International Humanitarian Partnership office and accommodation support module has arrived and will serve as base of operation for the United Nations as soon as it is established.

A Japanese Red Cross team specialised in emergency health arrived in the town of Meulaboh (west coast of Aceh province) and has begun distributing basic medical provisions such as bandages, dressings and painkillers to those most in need.

Ericsson will provide approx. 1,000 satellite phones for humanitarian purposes. Six satellite phones have been donated from Ericsson Indonesia and a further twenty satellite phones have been sent from Ericsson Response.

Key coordination mechanisms:

The Joint Logistics Centre has been established at the WFP office to coordinate transport of relief goods and personnel, using transport assets provided by the military from the Government of Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the USA. Agencies wishing to transport goods/personnel by air, please visit the JLC website:, obtain a movement request form, fill in the form and send it to: The JLC will negotiate space for relief cargos and personnel according to the priorities set by the United Nations Disaster Management Team. Currently, priority is given to: water supply; medicines; shelter and food.



Confirmed deaths have risen to 68, with 6 persons still reported missing. About 8,000 persons are being given temporary shelter in schools, most of them are women and children.

International response:

The UNCT is working with the local district offices to help affected fishermen repair or replace small fishing boats; supporting counseling services to traumatized persons; procuring infant formula, multivitamin syrup and bottled water; as well as supporting the development of a community surveillance system to provide early warning of Tsunamis and tidal waves.

Malaysia has opened its airspace and two airports to US and UN relief operations for the tsunami-hit Indonesian province of Aceh. The World Food Programme would use an airport in Subang, a suburb outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, as a base to forward relief supplies to Aceh. Malaysia has also deployed aircraft and helicopters to help Indonesia transport supplies and tsunami victims from Aceh.

Following a Government request, UNICEF has procured some health and nutrition items, which will be sent to Kuala Muda, Langkawi and Langkawi

All in-country Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) action is currently centred in the relief centres of Kota Kuala Muda, Kedah, consisting mainly of catering services to the beneficiaries and psychosocial support activities.



The entire population was affected, out of which one third of the population remains severely affected - reliant for water and food on relief. As of 3 January 2005, the death toll is 82, with 26 persons still missing. Some 13,311 people have been registered as homeless by the authorities.

Nine of the 20 atolls are reporting water and sanitation problems. Thirty-seven of 99 islands are reporting little or no water (capacity will last only 3-4 days). Fifteen of the islands (15 percent) are also reporting blocked sewage systems. Twenty islands (20 percent) have a contaminated water supply or the water is not fit for drinking because of salinity.

Within six months 1,000 women will deliver, regardless of the health facilities available. Safe delivery conditions are a major concern as health infrastructure and services have been severely disrupted, and in some cases destroyed. 10 atolls hospitals and health centres have been severely damaged and are not functioning while supplies and equipment have been destroyed in an additional 20 health service delivery points.


The challenges of delivering aid to some 200 islands are formidable. Therefore, transport and logistical coordination continue to remain the main priorities of the Government given the dispersion and the difficult conditions to be endured for aid delivery. Aid has to be delivered to each of the 200 islands individually and can be done in small boats or using other means of light transport.

Particular challenges to the provision of assistance are:

  • Population dispersion over 200 islands scattered over 900 kms which means that even small quantities of aid have to be transported to every island by either boat, sea plane or helicopter.

  • On most islands, access is designed for small boats, thereby restricting the amounts of supplies and equipment that can be delivered at any one time.

  • Destruction of jetties and boats, and disruption of transport links undermine food and other vital supply lines.

  • Inclement weather (as in the past days) restricts travel by boat and plane and hampers delivery of aid.

  • Small groups of residents remain on heavily damaged islands to look for and protect valuables and properties.

As a result of the above, the country and its people remain vulnerable to continuing effects of the disaster.

Key coordination mechanisms:

Within hours, the Government declared a state of natural disaster and a state of emergency and established a ministerial-level Crisis Task Force to assess damage, resume communication and power services, and coordinate the relief effort. By day four of the emergency, the Government had ascertained preliminary damage about all of the 200 islands.

The UN Country Team immediately established a Disaster Task Force to respond to the crisis, led by the UN Resident Coordinator. The UN has been liaising closely with the Government’s Task Force and has regular access to decision-makers, greatly facilitating a coordinated approach to the response. The UN Country Team is focusing primarily on the provision of water, food, ORS and transport.

In order to ensure that appropriate aid and quantities are sent to the country, please consult with the Government’s Crisis Task Force through the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s Department of External Resources:

Field Office contact: Aishath Jeelaan, Communications Officer, United Nations Resident Coordinator System, Tel: (960) 324501 ext. 227, mob: (960) 787 987.

International Response:

A team from the World Food Programme (WFP) is working closely with the Disaster Relief Taskforces of the Government and the UN Country Team. It is estimated that there are up to 17,000 IDPs who will require food assistance for the period of reconstruction (6 months). Basic field assessments undertaken also point out that there may be another 30,000 to 40,000 people who may require food assistance over the short term.

UNFPA deployed basic reproductive health kits such as clean delivery supplies, blood transfusion equipment, drugs and oral/injectable contraceptives amounting to USD 22,000.

WHO water and sanitation experts have started an inventory of affected islands to assess water and sanitation needs.



According to the Ministry of Social Welfare (MoSW), 30,186 people were killed, 3,791 are still missing and 876,883 people are displaced. The MoSW also reported that 91,154 houses have been destroyed.

Constraints and requirements:

The location of the affected areas causes an enormous logistical challenge to deliver needed relief supplies. Limited trucking and warehousing capacity is further complicating the relief effort. While central coordination mechanisms have been put in place, local coordination capacity remains weak. The lack of transportation and storage facilities is hampering the flow and management of relief efforts.

Secondary threat of water and vector borne disease is well recognised as the greatest concern. While in many places the inundation from the Tsunami has receded, further flooding caused by heavy rains in some areas is hampering the relief effort and exacerbating poor sanitary conditions of those displaced.

The immediate priority areas of response are for water (including cleaning up and restoring water wells), sanitation, health, shelter, food and essential non-food items, and transportation means.

The Ministry of Health urgently needs 37 jeeps, 20 ambulances and 16 water bowers (3000-7000 liter capacity) to strengthen services in the affected areas. Other medical supplies are required, the list can be made available by the Center for National Operations. According to UNJLC, 100 trucks would also be needed.

International response:

UNHCR: 24,500 plastic sheets, 11,700 plastic ropes, 25,500 plastic mats, 5,000 sarees, 5,000 sarongs, 7,500 towels, 3,653 T-shirts, 15,000 plastic plates, 20,000 plastic cups for a total value of USD 380,000 are being distributed by UNHCR in the districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Hambantota, Mannar, Mullativu, Trincomalee, Vavuniya. The distribution will be completed on 5 January 2005. The following items are in the pipeline: 20,000 kitchen sets and 20,000 plastic sheetings. Five Rubb Halls (790-1000 m3) are being procured and will be set up in Trinomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara and two locations in the South which is yet to be determined.

UNFPA: Basic reproductive health kits such as clean delivery supplies, blood transfusion equipment, and referral level hospital supplies, drugs and oral/injectable contraceptives are currently being deployed amounting to about USD 600,000. At the request of the Ministry of Health (MoH), UNFPA is providing 25,000 personal hygiene packs for women and girls amounting to USD160,000.

The main focus of WHO work is on health coordination with the Government, UN agencies and NGOs. WHO rapid health needs assessment teams are in Hambantota, Ampara, Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee. With WHO and MoH support, a Health Sector Coordination meeting has also taken place.

UNICEF delivered three water bowers to Hambantota and Galle. UNICEF is working with the Department of Health at the district level to disseminate health promotion messages on hygiene, waste disposal and breast feeding. 430,000 leaflets on safe health practices are being distributed in both Sinhala and Tamil and breast-feeding is being promoted. UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education to assess the extent of damage and destruction to school buildings in the affected districts and to ascertain the number of schools being used as temporary shelters for the displaced. Based on this assessment, UNICEF will determine the need for temporary school shelters. UNICEF has hired an international expert to help develop an emergency psycho-social response in Tsunami affected areas focusing on displaced children and youth. UNICEF staff in all affected areas have started to collect information on the number of unaccompanied and separated children. Coordination meetings between UNICEF, the DPCCS, the NCPA and Save the Children in Sri Lanka on this issue have started. UNICEF has issued a set of practical steps on for all staff in the field to help identify and prevent sexual abuse.

As a part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and participating national society operations there are presently 8 emergency response units in Sri Lanka: the French Red Cross has deployed a basic health care unit, the Finnish Red Cross Basic Health Care (BHC) unit was deployed to northern Ampara, the German Red Cross water and sanitation Emergency Response Unit (ERU) for specialised water is being deployed to support the Finnish Red Cross BHC unit in Northern Ampara District, the British Red Cross Logistics ERU continues to be involved with the task of clearing goods at the airport, managing the warehouses, and facilitating the forwarding of relief items on behalf of all partners involved in this operation, the Swedish Red Cross water and sanitation ERU for mass water distribution is ready for operation but final decisions on its assignment depend on the assessment of water related problems in the areas of Federation operations, a Spanish Red Cross Telecommunications ERU has been working on the installation of radio communications equipment, the American Red Cross Relief ERU will be deployed to Galle on the southern coast where it will provide logistics support to the Sri Lankan National Society in the management of a warehouse that is being established, the Norwegian Red Cross BHC unit will be deployed to Batticola with water and sanitation capacity. Based on the Federation’s Sri Lanka Tsunami initial operation plan of action, nonfood relief items will be distributed to 40,000 families in the affected regions.

Key coordination mechanisms:

Regarding warehouse and trucking, initial information from various agencies indicate the existence of 17 agency owned/managed operable storage facilities (warehouses and rub halls) throughout the country. Another eight rub halls are currently en route. Further to this, five Government owned warehouses with varying degrees of capacity have been identified. Agency concerns about the shortage of trucks are being addressed through logistics coordination meetings where pooling of resources has been discussed. Currently UNHCR has a fleet of eight trucks (8 MT) and is planning to hire an additional 35 - 45 trucks over a long period. WFP is expecting a shipment of 40 trucks in the coming days.

The National Operations Centre, working under the direct authority of the President, provides the essential interface between concerned Government ministries, local authorities, the military and the assistance community.

The Government has established a Centre for National Operations under the direct authority of the Prime Minister which serves to coordinate the national and international relief operation. Information is compiled centrally and disseminated through the Government website The Centre is directly supported by the Office of the Resident Coordinator and the UNDAC team.

The Disaster Relief Network (DRN) has set up operation at the airport in Colombo and signed an agreement with the Government of Sri Lanka to receive all incoming relief commodities. The information required by DRN is: cargo specification, weight and quantity, origin, consignee (or unsolicited), a contact point (with contact details) of the receiving agency in Sri Lanka, specification if commodities are for common use or for specific agency. The email address of DRN at the airport in Colombo is:

The detailed assessment reports gathered to date are available on the Government website managed by the Centre for National Operations (CNO):



5,046 dead; 3,810 missing. The number of missing is likely to change as many countries start to publicize their lists of people missing. The costal areas in the provinces of Phang Na, Krabi and Phuket were most affected with over 95% of the deaths so far reported from these provinces.

Most of the buildings affected are holiday resorts, hotels and private houses. No health facilities have been destroyed by the tsunami, and health services are functioning during the crises.

There is a danger of diseases related to disruption of safe water supply (e.g. water-borne diseases) as well as diseases related to crowding and exposure.

The massive number of recovered corpses placed a huge burden on identification of the individuals and their burial.


A ban has been issued to visit the affected areas in order to prevent obstructing official DNA gathering for body identification. Human remains will be searched by professionals, and voluntary participation is no longer accepted.

Key coordination mechanisms:

Ministry of Public Health has set up a Command Center for the South in Phuket to coordinate health services and epidemic surveillance and response for the affected provinces.

A daily coordination meeting on forensic work takes place at the police headquarters in Phuket. The Government of Thailand has established a Website ( to provide information on the people dead, missing and injured.

International Response:

The WHO team has carried out health assessments in the affected areas in the south of Thailand.

An assessment team made up of UNICEF regional advisors, UNICEF Thailand staff and WHO and Government staff visited the costal village of Nam Khem in Phang-nga province.

The Thai Government has asked Thai Red Cross to be the lead agency in food distribution. The Thai Red Cross continues to mobilize cash, material, staff and volunteers in the relief operation. In Tak Kua Pa district, a Red Cross mobile kitchen has been catering to 2,000 people, who have been evacuated to a school, since 27 December. Another 400 people from Baan Nam Khem village, staying in an evacuation centre, are receiving food. Red Cross volunteers are also assisting families in settling into these temporary shelters established by the government in Ta Kua Pa. In Phang Nga, the assessment team of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is evaluating the immediate and longer-term needs of the affected people with regards to food, non food, health, shelter, water and sanitation needs.


OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for unearmarked cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. For banking details, please contact the desk officers indicated below. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

Updates on contributions to this disaster may be found on the Financial Tracking Service (; or, click “Financial Tracking” at the top of the ReliefWeb page for this disaster). Donors are requested to verify this table and inform OCHA Geneva of corrections/additions/values. Donors are encouraged to notify OCHA Geneva of their contributions to this disaster using the OCHA Standardized Contributions Recording Format, available electronically on the above-mentioned FTS website.

Together with further information on other ongoing emergencies, this situation report is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Aid agencies are encouraged to use the Virtual On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) at to share information on assistance and coordinate activities.

MAP - South Asia: Earthquake and Tsunami - Situation map #4

Contributions report (pdf* format - 71 KB)

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