31 December, 2004
Eight Greeks continued to be missing in southeast Asia on Friday, as the confirmed death toll from Sunday's massive 9.0 Richter earthquake and ensuing killer tsunami topped 120,000, as Indonesia raised its death toll to just under 80,000.
Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told a press briefing Thursday that, based on corroborated information, eight Greeks continued to be missing in the stricken area, adding that the number of supposed missing persons, for which there were only indications that were exceptionally unclear, had declined.
Koumoutsakos had clarified Wednesday night that the numbers announced by the ministry of missing Greek holiday-makers in the area when devastation struck referred only to confirmed cases.
Koumoutsakos made the statement after a meeting Thursday chaired by foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, which was attended by deputy foreign ministers Yannis Valynakis and Panayotis Skandalakis and other ministry officials.
He said there was "no noteworthy change" in the overall picture, adding that there was still no report of any deaths or serious injuries among Greek holiday-makers in the area.
Regarding humanitarian aid and volunteer doctors dispatched to the region by Greece, Koumoutsakos said that the first of two military C-130 aircraft was currently in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, where it arrived from the Maldives capital of Male, while its final destination was Phuket.
The second C-130 departed at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday from Elefsis military airport, after the necessary procedures were completed, with Phuket as its destination. The aircraft carried a team of 25 highly-trained members of the Greek emergency rescue service EMAK with full equipment, who will carry out search and rescue operations.
The Foreign Ministry is calling on private individuals, organizations and non-governmental organizations to contribute tents in order to send them to Sri Lanka. The shortage of tents is the most immediate problem facing those in Sri Lanka, according to the first Greek mission which visited the country to assess the damage.
The tents will be sent to Sri Lanka on Monday or Tuesday by a C-130 military aircraft.
The Greek aid organization Caravan of Solidarity has appealed for donations to help the victims of the killer quake and tsunamis in Southeast Asia. The organization’s board has decided that the revenue of the charity shop 'Second Hand' for December and January will be used for this purpose and that it will open a bank account where people had deposit donations.
The board stressed that the total amount gathered will be used for children left unprotected after the disaster.
The bank account for donations is 159/480203-99 at the National Bank of Greece and contact lines for the public are 210 3314334, 210 3816886.
The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) Executive Board decided on Thursday to donate €6,000 in aid to journalists and media professionals working in Southeast Asia.
According to a statement issued by the union, this decision is a first gesture on the part of ESHEA to stand by its colleagues in Sri Lanka and Indonesia after the deadly tsunamis that hit the region on Sunday. In Indonesia alone, 25 journalists lost their lives.
Source: Athens News Agency