Tidal Waves Kill 23,700 in Nine Countries

The massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the west coast of the northern Indonesian island of Sumatra and the resulting tidal waves have so far according to news reports, claimed the lives of more than 22,000 people in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, thousands of people are still missing and tens of thousands of people have been displaced.

According to the Associated Press, the International Red Cross reported 23,700 deaths and expressed concern about waterborne diseases like malaria and cholera. Jan Egeland, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, told AP that millions of people were effected — by lost homes, polluted drinking water, destroyed sanitation — and that the cost of the damage would "probably be many billions of dollars."

Currently, the United Nations is working to coordinate an international relief effort in the aftermath of a devastating quake. Church organizations such as members of Action by Churches Together (ACT) have also been working together to provide relief to affected regions.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake's 9.0 magnitude was the strongest since a 9.2-magnitude temblor in Alaska in 1964 and the fourth-largest in a century.