Aid convoys get police escorts to speed relief to stricken Sri Lankans
Blocked roads and other problems are hindering aid convoys, which this week took eight hours to carry emergency supplies the 120 kilometers (around 75 miles) from the capital Colombo to the southern city of Galle, said Tim Costello, head of World Vision Australia.
"We've now got a promise from the government that we'll have police escorts with our lorries because the aid is only trickling when it takes that long -- it needs to be flooding," Costello told Channel Seven television from Colombo.
"The size and scale of this devastation is something I never ever could imagine, let alone think I'd see in my lifetime," he said, as the death toll from the tsunamis triggered by Sunday's massive earthquake off Indonesia neared 25,000.
"The truth is that the Sri Lankan government, I think, is in shock too," he said.
"So many prominent people in that government died ... and in terms of placing real organised control over the chaos, it is very, very slow," he said.
Costello said the Sri Lankan population was dazed by the death and destruction, and feared another tsunami could hit.
"They're people who really are among some of the poorest and most vulnerable in the world, and when you stand with them you realise their grief is just unending," he said.
Costello said World Vision's 300 Sri Lankan staff were also struggling to cope.
"Their morale is really knocked about. A number of them have lost family members," he said.
"They're exhausted, they've been counting the bodies, they've been involved with our mobile medical clinics in the mass burials so it's just terrible for them."
dm/jah AFP 310018 GMT 12 04
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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 12/30/2004 20:20:31
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