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Hope fades for 70 Swiss tsunami victims

The search for tsunami victims continues at a makeshift morgue in Thailand Keystone

The Swiss foreign ministry says it has given up hope for 70 nationals reported missing in the tidal waves that struck southeast Asia on Sunday.

This content was published on December 31, 2004 - 17:40

On Friday, the ministry raised the number of Swiss confirmed dead in the disaster from 12 to 13.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey told a news conference most of the 70 presumed dead had been in Thailand.

The search continues for a further 700 Swiss still unaccounted for - 490 in Thailand, 100 in Sri Lanka and 50 in India. There is no information about the whereabouts of 60 other missing.

On Thursday, the ministry reported that 12 Swiss had died while 850 were missing.

“Critical”

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation said the situation in the crisis area was now “extremely critical”, with a great risk of epidemics owing to contaminated water.

Three out of four Swiss emergency aid teams sent to the region have now arrived in Sri Lanka, Thailand and India, the agency said, and are providing first aid as well as restoring clean water supplies and building latrines.

The Swiss army is preparing to send 15,000 sleeping bags, 15,000 blankets as well as tents to the crisis region where millions are homeless.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

An earthquake on Sunday measuring nine on the Richter scale caused a series of tidal waves in the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives suffered large-scale destruction.
According to official statistics, more than 130,000 people were killed.
Thirteen Swiss are confirmed dead, with 70 presumed dead.

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