Quake-Tsunami Death Toll Reaches 226,000

The death toll from last month’s quake-tsunami devastation in South Asia shot above 226,000, sources reported Wednesday, after Indonesia's Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of tens of thousands of people previously listed as missing.

According to Reuters, Indonesia’s Health Ministry raised the country's death toll to 166,320 after it had previously given a figure of 95,450.

Dodi Indrasanto, a director at the health ministry's department of health affairs, said the new death total reflected the latest reports from the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, which were directly in the path of the massive waves triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake the day after Christmas.

However, despite the new findings, many people, such as United Methodist Bishop Joel Martinez of San Antonio believe "the full dimensions of the tragedy are not fully known" and expect the price tag of the disaster to exceed initial estimates just as the death toll did.

The U.N. system currently estimates that $977 million is needed in emergency aid to meet the basic needs of victims over the next six months

Meanwhile, in Meulaboh, Aceh province's second city, U.N. officials said emergency aid drops would have to be sharply increased in order to avoid hunger in outlying areas.