Germany has topped European donation pledges by announcing it will increase its aid to nations hit by the Asian tsunami to 500 million euros. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made the announcement following a special meeting of the German cabinet. The aid will be spread out over a three to five year period and will go towards supporting children and addressing health problems.The German people have been the most generous nation so far with private donations reaching 150 million euros, with the help of hastily organised television shows to garner support. The Chancellor did not, however, make any mention of debt relief for the afflicted nations, which was a proposition put forward by Germany and France. Berlin has sent technical experts to the region and has dispatched a navy hospital ship, which is expected to arrive in Sumatra early next week. Schroeder’s swift response to the catastrophe has been applauded, in contrast to other countries like the UK and Sweden whose leaders were criticised for doing too little too late. Schroeder has said he is confident the Group of Seven rich countries will agree to a debt relief deal for Indonesia and Sri Lanka.