WASHINGTON – President Bush on Tuesday offered the help and prayers of America to victims of an Indian Ocean earthquake (search) that saw Indonesia battered for the second time in three months.
"On behalf of the American people, Laura and I offer our condolences to the victims of yesterday's earthquake in Indonesia (search)," Bush said as he opened a speech on Iraq in the White House's Rose Garden. "The people of Indonesia can know as well that they have our prayers and that our government is ready to assist."
Bush said that U.S. officials, already in the region helping with the recovery from another earthquake and resulting tsunami, are moving quickly to offer assistance and gather information on what relief aid is needed.
The U.S. embassy in Jakarta contributed $100,000 for immediate relief while U.S. officials assess the damage and needs, said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. He said there were no reports of Americans killed, injured or missing in the earthquake.
The Defense Department has received no requests for aid and has not deployed any assets to the area affected by the earthquake, said Lt. Cmdr. Greg Hicks, a Pentagon spokesman.
The 8.7-magnitude quake hit off Indonesia's Nias island (search) Tuesday, triggering tsunami fears and killing at least 330 people. The even bigger quake three months ago sent waves crashing into coastlines all around the Indian Ocean, killing at least 174,000 people.
Bush's quick and public response Tuesday to the new quake was in sharp contrast with his reaction to the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami (search). Then, he was criticized for responding slowly and with too little money, waiting three days to make his first personal comments.
Eventually, Bush asked for $950 million in relief assistance for tsunami victims.
Congress has not completed action on the request. In the meantime, $350 million was made available to Indonesia and other countries hit by the tsunami. Of that amount, $127 million has been disbursed, the State Department's Ereli said.
There was no immediate decision on whether any leftover funds could be used for relief in the latest disaster, Ereli said.