Massive quake and tsunamis strike Indian Ocean
Help Tsunamis victims. Contact NGOs.

1.0     The estimated number of victims of tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, is now over 110,000.

2.0    Emergency/Disaster Research and Information Services

3.0     Death toll from massive tsunami

4.0    Read our January 2005 Newsletters for details about members of the Global Community who are from one of the twelve countries affected by tsunamis.

5.0     Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)

The estimated number of victims of tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, is now over 110,000.
Early Wednesday morning Indonesian officials said the number of dead in Indonesia alone is now over 32,000. They say that number may rise even further as rescuers reach remote areas that haven't yet been heard from.

Tens of thousands must be buried or cremated. Thousands more are injured and in need of help. Millions are homeless.

A top World Health Organization official says the threat of disease could take just as many lives as the quake and tsunamis unless clean water and medicine arrive, soon.

The largest number of victims was in Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra, where nearly all of the deaths were from the northwestern province of Aceh.

Soldiers and rescue workers speak of finding bodies on rooftops and in the trees.

Bulldozers and backhoes are digging through the mud and uprooted trees looking for more victims.

The Thai government says more than 700 foreign tourists are believed to have died in the disaster.

Passengers aboard the train that was called the Queen of the Sea were buried along the tracks. Police estimate about 1,000 people were killed when the train was knocked off the rails by a tsunami on Sunday. The train had been stopped in its tracks by rising waters before the wave derailed it altogether.

Local villagers tried to seek refuge from the waves that poured into their homes by climbing on top of the upturned train. Most were killed.

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Emergency/Disaster Research and Information Services

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Death toll from massive tsunami

The United Nation's humanitarian chief said the death toll in the tsunami Asia disaster could surpass 150,000.

Most of the casualties are in Indonesia.

The toll might rise again because some areas are inaccessible, making it difficult to obtain accurate information.

And the final toll might never be known because some coastal communities were obliterated.

Casualty numbers by country

As of December 31, 2004, at least 121,562 people were killed in 11 countries in Asia and Africa in Sunday's massive earthquake and tsunami waves, according to official figures. A breakdown of the toll so far:

Indonesia: 80,246.
Sri Lanka: 28,551.
India: 7,763
Thailand: 4,560
Somalia: 200
Myanmar: 90
Maldives: 73
Malaysia: 66
Tanzania: 10
Bangladesh: 2
Kenya: 1

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Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)

The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)– about 200 Canadian Forces soldiers – is designed to fly into disaster areas around the world to provide drinking water and medical treatment until long-term aid arrives.

The military created DART in 1996 because of its experience in Rwanda two years earlier, when international relief organizations arrived too late to save thousands of people from a cholera epidemic.

That convinced the federal government it needed to be able to respond more quickly.

Since then, DART has helped disaster victims in Turkey and Honduras.

Ottawa decided not to send the team to Haiti during the hurricane season of 2004, with Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew saying that Canada must consider the cost of such an aid mission. The team’s mission to Turkey, for example, cost $15 million.

On Jan. 3, 2005, Ottawa announced it would send DART to aid tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

The entire DART team was in place Jan. 10 for a scheduled six-week stay in the devastated area around Ampara, in eastern Sri Lanka.

What does DART do?

DART consists of about 200 Canadian Forces staff who can ship out quickly to conduct emergency relief operations for up to 40 days.

The team has four main goals:

Provide basic medical care: Its tented medical aid station can serve up to 250 outpatients and 10 inpatients a day. The medical platoon treats minor injuries and tries to keep diseases from spreading, but doesn't perform surgeries. The aid station includes a lab, a pharmacy, limited obstetrics services and rehydration and preventative medicine section.

Produce safe drinking water: Water purification staff can produce up to 50,000 litres of potable water a day, as well as chlorinating local wells and monitoring water supplies.

Repair basic infrastructure: Engineers can fix roads and bridges, repair electrical and water supply systems and build refugee camps.

Make communication easier: DART sets up facilities to make communication easier between everyone involved in the relief effort, including the afflicted country, non-governmental organizations and UN aid agencies.

DART does not go into places where it will face organized resistance and tries not to step on the toes of aid agencies.

The team receives less money than any other unit in the Canadian Forces, with an annual budget of $500,000.

What troops are in DART? Apart from a handful of staff at DART headquarters in Kingston, Ont., the team uses personnel from military units across the country.

The team consists of:

Engineer platoon:
About 37 field and construction engineers.

Medical platoon:
About 40 staff who operate the aid station.

Defence and security platoon:
About 45 personnel who guard camp and support DART operations.

Logistics platoon:
About 20 staff who provide maintenance, transportation and supplies.

About 45 personnel who oversee operations and co-ordinate DART's response with other countries and aid organizations.

How does it get sent out?

The Canadian government makes the decision to send DART after it receives a request from an individual country or the United Nations.

A reconnaissance team of about 12 people – drawn from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian International Development Agency, National Defence Headquarters and DART – heads out first to find what's needed.

Once DART knows where to set up camp, it begins shipping troops and equipment, usually from the airport at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario. Almost everything DART needs – more than 40 vehicles and 340 tonnes of supplies – is stored in a warehouse at the base, ready to be shipped at 48 hours notice. Another 11 tonnes of medical supplies are stashed nearby.

What has it done in the past?

Canada has deployed the full DART team on two major operations: in Honduras, after a major hurricane struck, and in Turkey, after a massive earthquake tore through the country.

Honduras: Operation Central

A severe hurricane that ripped through Honduras in October 1998 killed thousands and left several million people homeless. DART deployed to the most devastated area, the Rio Aguan Valley in north-central Honduras.

Because many of the roads and bridges were destroyed, four CH-146 Griffon helicopters from CFB Petawawa flew down to shuttle medical teams, food and water out to isolated villages.

DART staff:

Treated about 7,500 patients, largely for ailments such as respiratory infections, skin and intestinal infections, diarrhoea and parasites.

Produced thousands of litres of clean drinking water and chlorinated local wells used by about 15,000 people.

Repaired roads, bridges and electrical and water supply systems.

Delivered more than 113 tonnes of food, water and medical supplies by the time they left in mid-December.

Turkey: Operation Torrent

An earthquake that struck northwestern Turkey in August 1999 killed tens of thousands of people and left more than half a million homeless. The DART team, which set up in the town of Serdivan about 135 kilometres east of Istanbul:

1) Treated more than 5,000 patients.

2) Produced more than 2½ million litres of purified water, tested 50 water sources for safety and monitored a water treatment plant and reservoirs.

3) Helped clean up a local school.

4) Restored electricity at a medical clinic.

5) Constructed a 2,500-person tented camp in Serdivan.

The bulk of the Canadian military's disaster response team is en route to Pakistan, where the troops will help the victims of last week's massive earthquake.

More than 200 members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) are on a chartered Polaris Airbus, which lifted off shortly after 6 p.m. local time Sunday, October 16, from Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Eastern Ontario.

The military team includes logistics experts, medical staff, engineers who can clear roads and repair buildings, and water purification specialists capable of supplying 50,000 litres a day of desperately needed clean water.

Pakistan has raised the toll of the Oct. 8 quake to more than 40,000, with an estimated two million left homeless. Its government issued an urgent appeal for more aid on Sunday, amid warnings that rescuers have not yet reached many survivors as bad weather looms.

"The types of capabilities we have are in huge demand and they are not there now," Major Julia Atherley-Blight, the Deputy Commanding Officer of DART, said as the troops prepared to depart.

"There's not a lot of capability for producing water. There are not enough medical people to provide the care because, of course, so many of them were affected in the disaster."

The plane is the third element of the team to depart for Pakistan in what the military has dubbed Operation Plateau. A transport plane with 75 tonnes of cargo took off Saturday and an advance team of 24 people arrived before that to assess how DART can best help.

Three more loads of equipment are set to take off over the next few days.

'If I can help just one or two people, then that's worth it'

This is the fourth time that DART has been fully deployed, including a mission to Sri Lanka earlier in the year to help after the tsunami devastated Southeast Asia.

But because DART rotates its personnel and draws them from military units across the country, many of those who left Sunday were heading overseas for the first time.

"I'm very excited," said Sub.-Lieut. Jeffrey Lee, a military nurse.

"I'm proud to be selected to be on the DART team. I'm proud that Canada is fulfilling part of the international humanitarian aid to the region."

Sgt. Cindy Harvey agreed wholeheartedly. "If I can help just one or two people, then that's worth it to me. I'm anxious to go and help them and I'm sure the pictures on TV do not do it justice."

Critics say money better spent on aid agencies

The last time the DART team was used, during the tsunami, there was criticism that the $15 million in costs would have been more effective if given to aid agencies on the ground.

Some critics – including John Watson of the Ottawa-based charity CARE Canada – raised the same concerns about the mission to Pakistan.

But the government has argued that it is more useful to send people with expertise than money.

Aileen Carroll, the federal Minister of International Co-operation, said Pakistan needs all the help it can get to cope with the disaster and its aftermath.

"There's always those who want to jump and criticize at the outset but I see room for what CARE Canada does and I see a great, important piece for DART," said Carroll, who came to CFB Trenton to see off the team.

'DART is all about relief, not rescue'

The full DART team expects to be operational within days.

The United Nations Relief Co-ordinator in Pakistan, Rob Holden, told CBC News that he would have liked to have seen more help, delivered more quickly.

"It's great that they are arriving, but of course I am very passionate about this. I want people here now. That means we're working today."

But Major Tony DeJacolyn, a member of the DART advance team in Pakistan, rejected criticisms that DART hadn't moved quickly enough to help the quake victims.

"DART is all about relief, not rescue," DeJacolyn told CBC News. "It's important that we distinguish the difference between those two. We are designed to come in after the initial rescue attempts are made."

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