More than three-quarters of Americans approve of the way President George W. Bush has handled the U.S. response to the tsunami (search) disaster and over 80 percent characterize the government’s contributions to the relief effort as generous, according to a recent FOX News poll. In addition, almost 40 percent think natural disasters such as tsunamis are messages from a higher being.

The survey finds that 77 percent of Americans approve of the job President Bush is doing handling the country’s response, including 67 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents and 91 percent of Republicans. An even higher number — 83 percent — characterize the government’s contributions as generous rather than stingy (10 percent). Moreover, 59 percent characterize the contributions as "very generous."

Majorities think the U.S. contributions will improve the country’s image around the world (52 percent) and be appreciated by Muslims in the affected areas (57 percent).

About half (51 percent) report they have donated to relief organizations and 86 percent have prayed for the victims. In a post-9/11 poll, 63 percent of Americans said they had donated money or clothing and 91 percent reported they had prayed for peace (September 2001).

Most Americans approve of the news coverage of the disaster, with 61 percent saying news organizations are giving it the "right amount" of attention, and 66 percent saying the media are acting responsibly as opposed to sensationalizing (25 percent) the event.

Many people (57 percent) think the recent tsunami is the most tragic world event to happen in their lifetime, while 39 percent disagree and mention events such as 9/11, World War II, the Holocaust and the Vietnam War as events they consider more tragic.

Finally, almost 4 in 10 Americans believe natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes are messages from a higher being, about half disagree and 1 in 10 are unsure. Those most likely to believe natural disasters are messages include: blacks (56 percent), those living in low-income households (48 percent), women (47 percent), Southerners (46 percent) and Bush voters (44 percent).

Women are 19 percentage points more likely than men to believe disasters are messages from a higher being. Bush voters are 10 points more likely than Kerry voters to believe so, however there is no difference between self-identified Democrats and Republicans (38 percent believe).

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on January 11-12.

• Pdf: Click here for full poll results.