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CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- The United States is pledging $350 million to help tsunami victims, a tenfold increase over its first wave of aid, President Bush announced Friday.
"Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead," Bush said Friday in a statement released in Crawford, Texas, where he is staying at his ranch.
"Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster."
Bush also is sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to Indian Ocean coastal areas ravaged by earthquake and tsunami to assess what more the United States needs to do. The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will travel with him.
The newly announced aid came after some critics claimed that the initial U.S. contribution of $35 million was meager considering the vast wealth of the nation.
France has promised $57 million, Britain has pledged $95 million, Sweden is sending $75.5 million and Spain is offering $68 million, although that pledge is partly in loans.
Bush said disaster response officials are on the ground and the United States has established a support center in Thailand that is in operation. More than 20 patrol and cargo aircraft have been made available to assess the disaster and deliver relief supplies, he said.
"Many of those aircraft are on the scene," Bush said.
The president said the United States has dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, a maritime squadron from Guam and an amphibious ship carrying a Marine expeditionary unit. "They will soon be in position to support relief efforts to include the generation of clean water," he said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)