Posted December. 27, 2004 22:58,
Reportedly, one Korean is confirmed dead, one missing, and another 18 are unable to be contacted amid an earthquake on the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and a strong tidal wave, tsunami, that slammed the Southeast Asian coasts on December 26.
It is also estimated that, as of 4:00 p.m. December 27 (Korean time), the disaster claimed a total of 15,598 lives.
However, thousands of people in the affected region are still missing, increasing the expected maximum number of deaths in its wake to more than 20,000. The number of victims affected by the disaster amounts to millions.
Lee Kyu-hyeong, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said on December 27, As of now, 6:00 p.m., one Korean is confirmed dead, one missing, nine injured, and 18 are unable to be contacted.
Among the Koreans who are unable to be contacted are nine who were touring in Phi Phi Island, Phuket, five in nearby Khao Lak, three in Ache, Indonesia, and one in Maldives.
Spokesperson Lee explained, Mr. Yim (33), a Korean resident in Malaysia, and his Malaysian wife died in Phuket, Thailand, and Ms. Bae (75) is missing. Except for that, theres no additional confirmation on the toll of lives, adding, Yet, Yims daughter, aged 5, is in serious condition as well.
Taking into account the backpack tourists who move independently from travel agencies, however, the number of affected Korean tourists is likely to increase.
The Thai government sent naval vessels and air force helicopters to Phi Phi Island, where around 4,000 tourists are stranded, to rescue them.
The hardest hit countries, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, declared the most affected regions as disaster-hit regions and initiated rescue operations.
Sri Lanka, slammed by a strong tidal wave, saw 4,891 people dead and about one million afflicted. Reuters News reported that 5,697 people are estimated to be dead or missing in its wake in India.
The number of deaths in other countries is 4,491 in Indonesia, 431 in Thailand, 44 in Malaysia, 32 in Maldives, 10 in Myanmar, and two in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) revised the magnitude of the December 26 earthquake upwards from 8.9 on the Richter scale to 9.0 and reported it is the fourth largest magnitude since 1900.
The quake affected even African regions, 6,000 km away across the Indian Ocean, by causing tidal waves. According to BBC and the Reuters reports, 16 died in Somalia, four were confirmed dead or missing, and dozens of fishing boats were destroyed in Kenya. African nations adjoining the Indian Ocean lessened the damage as they rushed to evacuate thousands of tourists and fishermen when waves showed an unstable movement before the tidal waves slammed the region.