U.N. Tries to Get Aid to Somali Town

A fishing town in northeastern Somalia (search) was nearly demolished by a tsunami (search) from Indonesia's devastating earthquake, and 500 families are living in unhealthy conditions while sheltering in huts built from debris, U.N. officials said Wednesday.

The United Nations (search) also raised the death toll for Somalia to 114 and said "many more people" and more than 100 fishing boats were missing from swamped villages along the Somali coast.

The Horn of Africa nation was the worst hit country on Africa's east coast, where Tanzania counted 10 dead, Kenya had one drowned and Seychelles reported two fishermen missing from the huge waves generated by Sunday's quake 2,800 miles on the other side of the Indian Ocean.

Alhaji Bah, an official with UNICEF in Nairobi, said a U.N. team found about 80 percent of the buildings wrecked in Hafun, a town of 4,500 people about 715 miles northeast of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. He said survivors reported 12 people killed but said an unknown number of fishermen were at sea when the waves hit and had not been heard from.

"They basically have nothing," Bah said. "The water is all contaminated and there is evidence of waterborne diseases."

He said UNICEF planned to truck in clean drinking water, plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets and cooking pots from Bossaso, the main port in northeastern Somalia about 200 miles away.

But another U.N. official said the world body's food agency was having trouble getting 34 tons of food to Hafun because the road had been washed out.

Laura Melo of the World Food Program (search) described Hafun as a scene of total desolation.

"Most of the houses in town have been destroyed. Personal belongings lay scattered around town. Boats are beached in the middle of town. Even money is strewn on the ground," she said in a statement.

The United Nations' acting humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Elballa Hagona, said it was difficult to assess the needs of Somalis, whose country has been wracked by years of civil war and tribal fighting.

"Our efforts to even gauge the full extent of the damage are being hampered by the poor transport and communication networks, which also affect the delivery of emergency relief as we piece together a complete picture of the situation," she said in a statement.

Melo said the United Nations planned to send a plane along Somalia's coast Thursday to make an inventory of all damaged areas.

Also on Wednesday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called for a moratorium on debt repayments by Somalia and Indonesia, the only two nations struck by Sunday's disaster that owe substantial amounts to the Paris Club of wealthy creditor countries.

Somalia's newly elected interim prime minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi, said Tuesday that his country's northeast was hit hardest by the tsunami waves.

Gedi, whose transitional government and parliament are temporarily based in Nairobi because Mogadishu is still too dangerous, said he had formed a disaster committee of lawmakers and U.N. representatives to oversee relief efforts.

Elsewhere in East Africa, Tanzania's government said 10 people were known dead from the ocean surge, most of them while swimming off Dar es Salaam, the country's commercial capital. Alfred Tibaigana, regional police commander, said others in a capsized boat were feared dead.

On the island nation of Seychelles, two fishermen were missing and four people were hospitalized, said Alain Payette, a top official in President James Michel's office.

In Kenya, one person died in Malindi, about 260 miles southeast of Nairobi, and 50 fishing boats were destroyed, police spokesman Jaspher Ombati said.