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UPDATED: 11:45, January 06, 2005
Annan: Tsunami death toll likely over 150,000
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United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday in Jakarta that the tsunami death toll will be likely over 150,000 and there is an emmediate need for the disaster survivors.

The exact tsunami death toll will never be known, Annan said at the opening of the special meeting on the massive relief and reconstruction efforts for the earthquake and tsunami hit countries.

Leaders or their representatives of 26 countries and international organizations are attending the meeting.

Annan said that about 977 million US dollars was immediately needed to cover humanitarian emergency needs for 5 million tsunami disaster survivors over the next six months.

"We must set the stage for efforts in the longer term, as we move from saving lives to recovery and reconstruction," Annan said.

He said over 3 billion dollars has been pledged, calling for a quick turn of the pledges into cash.

"Many of the pledges have come to us in cash and in kind. We need the rest of the pledges to be converted into cash quickly," he said.

"We also need more people and more materiel to get the aid to those who are most in need, often in remote areas."

Annan is here to attend the Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami which opened Thursday morning in Jakarta, capital of this worst-hit country in the calamity.

The one-day emergency summit is being held under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), along with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The UN Secretary General said that the Dec. 26 unprecedented natural disaster takes unprecedented global cooperation to cope with, calling the international community to wake from the "nightmare."

In response to the call for a future tsunami warning system, which is to be discussed at the meeting, annan said, "Although we were powerless to stop the tsunami, together we have the power to stop those next waves."

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made an opening speech in the capacity of chairman of the meeting, calling for more help to children in the affected countries whose lives were heavily affected in the disaster.

Country delegations led by heads of state or government are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Countries represented by ministers are India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States, and Canada.

The international organizations participating in the summit are the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, the United Nations World Health Organization, the World Bank and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Representatives from four European countries -- Britain, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands -- as well as East Timor are attending the summit as observers.

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