Chirac holds minute's silence for tsunami dead

3rd January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday paid solemn tribute to the more than 144,000 people killed in last week's Asian tsunami disaster, charging his government with helping to expedite aid to the region.

PARIS, Jan 3 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Monday paid solemn tribute to the more than 144,000 people killed in last week's Asian tsunami disaster, charging his government with helping to expedite aid to the region.  

"I ask you to mobilize all civilian, military and public health means at the state's disposal to continue to respond to this emergency," Chirac said after receiving traditional New Year's greetings from his cabinet ministers.  

Aid groups rushed on Monday to help nearly two million desperate survivors of the December 26 tsunami catastrophe, with more than two billion dollars in international pledges already made to help deal with the crisis.  

The French government has pledged a total of 45 million euros (61 million dollars) in relief for the countries hit by the disaster. Chirac also hailed the "extraordinary generosity" of French citizens who have made donations.  

Earlier, after reviewing a contingent from the Republican Guard and hailing the efforts of French troops around the world, Chirac paid "solemn tribute, in the name of France, to all of the victims of the Indian Ocean catastrophe".  

Chirac led those present in a minute of silence.  

As the last post rang out through the courtyard, the flags flying above the Elysee presidential palace were lowered to half-mast.  

Indonesian officials have put the death toll in that country at more than 94,000, raising the overall confirmed toll from the international tragedy to more than 144,000.  

At least 22 French nationals are confirmed dead in the December 26 disaster that struck a dozen countries in Asia and Africa, according to French officials. Around 100 more are missing and presumed dead, and Paris still has no news of hundreds more who were vacationing in the region.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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