&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/399/14725_MDS.html ' target=_blank>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 &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/cis/2000/10/25/461.html ' target=_blank>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 &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/2003/09/26/50173.html ' target=_blank>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.