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  Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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George W. Bush assembled a four-country coalition to co-ordinate humanitarian relief for Asia
President George W. Bush assembled a four-country coalition to co-ordinate humanitarian relief for Asia and made clear Wednesday the United States will help bankroll long-term rebuilding in the region levelled by a massive earthquake and tsunamis. U.S. officials braced for the death toll to exceed 100,000. "It's just beyond our comprehension to think about how many lives have been lost," Bush said after emerging from a holiday vacation at his Texas ranch to make his first comments on the four-day-old disaster. U.S. officials continued to hunt for 2,000 to 3,000 Americans who remain unaccounted for, and asked travellers to check in with families and U.S. diplomatic posts. At least 12 Americans are known dead from Sunday's quake and subsequent tsunamis that struck a dozen countries from Thailand to Somalia, reports CBC News. According to the Telegraph, Bush dismissed criticism from a United Nations official that the West had been "stingy" in its response to the disaster, as he ordered ships and aircraft to the distressed area. In his first public comments on the disaster, Mr Bush said the United States promised a multi-pronged approach, including the despatch of ships and servicemen, that would go far beyond the $35 million (£18 million) pledged initially. He said the United States, India, Australia and Japan had formed a coalition to co-ordinate relief efforts, adding that he would consider a German proposal to put a moratorium on the debt of Indonesia. "We will prevail over this destruction," he said. Arizona Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe, who is in charge of House spending on foreign aid, said another possibility was to redirect unused Iraq reconstruction money to tsunami victims. Asked if the United States was adequately protected with tsunami early warning systems for residents of the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, Bush said he was asking government agencies to look into such things. "I think that our location in the world is such that we may be less vulnerable than other parts," Bush said. "But I am not a geologist, as you know", informs Reuters.
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