A senior US official says the United States is preparing to spend 656-million dollars on a long-term reconstruction program for Indian Ocean countries hit by last year's devastating tsunami. At a news conference on Thursday, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Andrew Natsios, said long-term projects include rebuilding roads, buildings and other infrastructure. He said there is a 17-million dollar allocation set aside to create an early warning system for storms in the Indian Ocean.
The United States has earmarked over 900 million dollars for tsunami relief. That money includes about 250-million dollars to be reimbursed to the Pentagon for rescue and relief activities immediately after the December 26th, 2004 disaster. The tsunami, and the massive underwater earthquake that triggered it, left some 175-thousand dead in nine countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Nearly two million people were displaced. International aid pledges stand at about six-billion dollars.