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American Tsunami Death Toll Doubles

American Tsunami Death Toll Doubles

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The toll of Americans presumed dead in the South Asian tsunami has more than doubled, a senior State Department official said Wednesday, as the government added 20 more people to the list of those known previously to have perished.

Nineteen of the additional victims reported Wednesday were in Thailand and the 20th in Sri Lanka, two of the hardest-hit countries, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The decision to list them as presumed dead is based on accounts of survivors, the official said.

Some 4,000 to 6,000 Americans have not been located, but the State Department has declined until now to provide any estimate of how many are presumed dead. This is in contrast to other governments that have lost people in the disaster.

On Tuesday, department spokesman Adam Ereli said there were 16 known dead, eight in Thailand and eight in Sri Lanka.

The 20 now presumed dead raises the U.S. death toll to 36.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is on a trip to areas struck by the earthquake and tsunami, is understood to have urged department officials to be more forthcoming.

At least 60 Germans died in the disaster -- the highest official toll of foreigners so far -- and another 1,000 remain missing.

Sweden has reported 52 of its citizens were killed and 1,903 remain missing.

Church bells rang out across Europe Wednesday and shoppers, mass transit and stock exchanges paused for three minutes of silence in tribute to the victims.

The State Department has hesitated to estimate how many Americans who have not been located were assumed to be victims. For more than a week, department officials have been checking airline passenger lists, U.S. embassies abroad and sifting through telephone calls for concerned relatives and friends.

Hundreds of names have been taken off the tentative list of Americans who had not been located, But others have taken their place as the inquiry proceeds.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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