The threat of disease decimating survivors of Asia's tsunami has receded but aid agencies remain on their guard, the UN said yesterday as doctors reported children dying from pneumonia. \nIndonesia found almost 4,000 more bodies of tsunami victims, pushing the global death toll from the disaster above 160,000. Despite that increase, signs of recovery were emerging. \nLife was starting to return to normal in towns and villages on battered Indian Ocean coasts with markets reopening and fishermen casting their nets at sea again after the Dec. 26 earthquake and the tsunami that it triggered. \nWorries were fading that the death toll could double if disease broke out in afflicted areas, but aid agencies said they must keep up their guard and were acting to prevent malaria in the Indonesian province of Aceh that was worst hit by the wave. \n"There are no alarm bells ringing, but we cannot slacken our efforts. The threat is still there," Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN special coordinator for the disaster, told reporters in Jakarta after returning from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital. \nIn Indonesia at least 110,000 people died and many thousands more are missing after the earthquake off the coast of northern Sumatra island. \nMore than 30,000 died in Sri Lanka, over 15,000 in India and 5,300 in Thailand. With deaths also reported in Malaysia, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar and east African nations, the total stands at more than 162,000. \nTo try to build a buffer against future tsunamis, Indonesia will replant swathes of mangrove forest along its vulnerable coastline, Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban said. \nEnvironmental experts say Southeast Asia's mangroves -- many of which have been ripped out to make room for shrimp and fish farms -- could have helped to slow the tsunami by providing a barrier between waves and land. \nKaban said Indonesia would revive its mangrove coastal defenses, earmarking 600,000 hectares for revitalization. \n"The tsunami in Aceh made us see the need to speed up this process," Kaban said. \nAbout 700,000 people were made homeless in Aceh and many survivors were now living in makeshift camps. \nThe World Health Organization said initial fears of epidemics were easing because most survivors now had access either to clean water or water-purification tablets. \nThe global response to the disaster has been unprecedented. Governments have promised US$5.5 billion in aid, with individuals and corporations pledging at least US$2 billion more. \nUN Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday said he will appoint a special envoy to oversee relief and reconstruction efforts. \n"In order to ensure the maximum coherence and coordination in the relief and reconstruction efforts, I have decided to appoint a special envoy," Annan told a news conference in Port Louis, Mauritius, on the sidelines of a UN conference on small islands. \nA UN donors' conference in Geneva this week raised some US$717 million to assist the 12 countries battered by the devastating tsunami. \nUN agencies are also leading the effort to set up a global warning system that Annan said should not just cover tsunamis but also other threats such as storm surges and cyclones. \nElsewhere, US President George W. Bush said US aid efforts following the tsunami would improve the US' image. \n"In ... responding to the tsunami, many in the Muslim world have seen a great compassion in the American people," Bush said in an interview with ABC News to be aired yesterday. \nBush, initially criticized for a slow and limited US response to the tsunami, said he was "very impressed ... by how quickly we have responded." \nAlso see story: \nDisagreement delays the identification of victims
‘NOT AN INCH’: The president said after incursions by Chinese warplanes that there should be very smooth collaboration between the executive and military branches President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that Taiwan would not budge “an inch” on issues of sovereign territory and would stalwartly defend its democratic freedoms. Tsai made the remarks during an inspection of surface-to-air missiles at an air force base in Hualien. She was accompanied by National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發), Chief of the General Staff Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) and Republic of China Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基). After attending a briefing, Tsai was given a demonstration of procedures for a missile launch. Tsai granted the base a one-time subsidy to boost troop
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
RIVERSIDE CAMP: As rescuers continued their search for a missing man, Taipower said that the floodgates at a hydro plant on the Lishi Creek opened due to a malfunction Three people have been confirmed dead and one was missing after being swept away by a flash flood while camping in Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛), police said yesterday. Six people from two families were camping near Lishi Creek (栗栖溪) when the riverbanks were suddenly flooded just after 4am, carrying away four of the campers — including two children — who were asleep in their tents, police said. A man who was among those swept away was able to climb ashore and call for help, police said, adding that another man had gone missing in the turmoil at the campsite.
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline