The New Year has got off to a sombre start in Scandinavia, with Sweden, Finland and Norway observing a day of mourning for those caught up in the tsunami disaster. Sweden has been hit the hardest, with some 60 nationals confirmed dead and over 3,500 others missing. Flags were flown at half-mast and special church services were held across the country.
Earlier, casualties flown in from the crisis zone were taken to hospitals in the Stockholm area in a fleet of ambulances. At least two lone children were among those returning. The UN says the overall death toll from the catastrophe may be approaching 150,000. In Italy, as elsewhere, people have been putting their hands in their pockets to help victims. A major street collection was held in the capital, Rome. “All over the world, in 70 different countries of the world, we are starting a collection of funds so that we can help projects in Aceh and other areas of Indonesia and in India,” said Claudio Mario Betti of aid agency The Community of Sant’Egidio.Meanwhile, the bodies of the first Italian victims arrived back in the capital.