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UPDATED: 16:06, December 29, 2004
Indonesia death toll reaches up to 40,000
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The death toll from Sunday's earthquake and tsunamis might be as high as 40,000 people in Indonesia, said the nation's Vice President Jusuf Kalla Wednesday.

"Today our estimation is around 30,000-40,000 dead. Aceh's population is about 4.5 million with 300,000 in Banda Aceh," Kalla told diplomats at a meeting.

Earlier, The Indonesian Ministry of Health said the country's death toll from the earthquake and the following tsunamis has climbed to over 30,000 so far.

As massive rescue work is still going on, more dead bodies would be discovered and there are at least 1,100 people listed missing, officials said.

The latest figure has greatly surpassed initial predictions.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono flied on Monday directly from the easternmost province of Papua to Sumatra island after visiting the victims of the most powerful earthquake in 40 years.

After inspection of the disaster-hit areas, President Susilo ordered the immediate restoration of telecommunication lines linking Aceh and other parts of the country, and stepping up the distribution of food, medicine, tents and other daily necessities.

The daily Jakarta Post reported Wednesday that aerial observation by the Air Force showed that houses and other buildings in most villages and towns in the western and eastern parts of Aceh province were leveled.

Source: Xinhua

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