20 January 2005

Nine South Africans still missing

Nine South Africans remained missing or unaccounted for by Wednesday afternoon after the December 26 Asian tsunamis, the foreign affairs department said in Pretoria.

The number of people considered unaccounted for dropped by half from 10 on Tuesday, as five people were located "safe and sound" on Wednesday, it said in a statement.

People listed as unaccounted for are believed to have been in the area when the giant waves struck, and have not been traced since. But they are not yet considered to be officially missing.

Those on the official missing list, feared dead, remained at four by Wednesday.

"In this regard, the ministry is awaiting the outcome of DNA processing initiated by the Thailand authorities for utilisation in the victim identification process," the statement said.

The foreign ministry's consular services, working with affected families, have managed in the past three weeks to trace 2 900 individuals initially unaccounted for in the tsunami-stricken region, the department said.

Of those, 11 have been confirmed dead.

"In the meantime, the foreign ministry will continue to work with (the international police agency) Interpol with a view to tracking down all missing and unaccounted for South Africans."

The department expressed gratitude to affected families and members of the public for their assistance in tracing missing South Africans.


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