Colin Powell has taken a helicopter ride to get a close-up view of the decimated landscape on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island. The US Secretary of State, who is a former army chief, told reporters he has been in wars and experienced hurricanes and tornadoes, but he has never seen anything like the destruction left behind by the tsunami.
He says he could not begin to imagine the horror that people went through. His tour of Aceh province comes just ahead of his attendance at a tsunami donors conference taking place in Jakarta on Thursday.
Leaders from at least 26 countries and humanitarian groups are expected at the summit. Among them will be Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard, who has bumped up his country’s pledge to the equivalent of 577 million euros.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is urging leaders to ensure that promises of help are honoured. Indonesia is hoping the conference will also lead to the setting up of an early tsunami warning system, similar to the one which operates in the Pacific Ocean.