OSLO, Norway – Moving to whittle down the number of missing — and those feared dead — Norway on Monday made public a list of its citizens unaccounted for after the tsunami disaster, following the lead of neighboring Finland and Denmark.
In Sweden, a government spokesman said that the final death toll of Nordic citizens, including the nearly 3,500 missing, may not be known completely until the spring.
Confirmed deaths from the disaster reached 137,321 after hardest-hit Indonesia increased its death toll to 94,081. Aid agencies have said the death toll was expected to hit 150,000.
Sri Lanka (search), India and Thailand said they were almost ready to give up on more than 15,000 still unaccounted for.
The Thai tourist resorts hit hardest by the tsunamis, such as Phuket (search) and Khao Lak (search), were warm havens for thousands of Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Finns seeking to escape the dark and icy Nordic winter.
Norway's national crime police, Kripos, said that 16 Norwegians were confirmed killed in the Dec. 26 tsunami, down from the government's earlier estimate of 21. Kripos also said it cut the number of confirmed missing to 275, including 52 children, from the earlier estimate of 462.
Arne Huuse, the head of Kripos, said his unit and Norwegian officers at home and in Asia had been cross-checking and confirming the names of the dead and missing. He said the new estimates were based on firm evidence instead of reports of people feared killed or missing.
"The police stress that this is not a final list, and will be updated," said Justice Minister Odd Einar Doerum, appearing with Huuse at a news conference in Oslo.
In Finland, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that five Finns were killed, but police said they have a list of 15 dead Finns provided by Thai officials. The ministry said it has "no reason to doubt" the Thai list but that the deaths will not be confirmed until a Finnish forensic team has identified the corpses.
By Sunday, almost all the 3,000 Finnish tourists in Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka had been evacuated on an airlift begun last Monday by the national carrier, Finnair, or on regular flights.
In the Baltics, Latvia said it is still searching for 15 of its citizens and Estonia said three of its residents had not been accounted for. Neither country reported anyone killed in the tsunami.
On Monday, Danish police cut the numbers of missing Danes from 207 to 69 people, but warned that another 100, whose identities have not been confirmed, are still not accounted for. Seven Danes have been confirmed dead, but government leaders warned that the death toll would rise.
"In one go, we were able to reduce the list of missing down from nearly 500 on Dec. 30 to the present 69," said Niels-Otto Fisker, a spokesman for Denmark's National Police. "Publishing the list gave us a much better, more reliable picture of who was missing."
"Some people found it unpleasant to spot their own names on the list but it was a way to get rid of any misunderstanding," Fisker told the AP. He said some called police to say they hadn't known they were listed as missing, despite returning home.
The Danish newspaper B.T. listed names of the missing on its front page under the bold headline "Missing."
In Sweden, some 2,915 Swedes are still missing, while 52 were confirmed killed, government officials said.
But unlike its neighbors, Sweden has yet to publish a list of those missing, citing fears that criminals could take advantage of the fact, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Odlander.
"I do not know how many cases there are, but it has happened," he said. Norwegian and Danish officials had expressed similar concerns.
In recent days, more than a dozen chartered airliners, military aircraft and air ambulances with injured Nordic citizens have landed in Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki.
For Swedes, the depth of the tragedy was being brought a step closer home as the first planeload of caskets with the remains of their countrymen was expected to arrive in the Swedish capital on Tuesday.
The former commander of Sweden's military, Johan Hederstedt, coordinating the transport of Swedes and others home from Thailand, said the cargo plane will bring up to eight bodies in zinc coffins, the first of dozens expected in the coming weeks.