World Mounts Relief Effort for Tsunami Victims

International relief organizations are warning that the already staggering figure of 60,000 people killed by Sunday's deadly South Asian tsunamis could easily double unless badly needed aid reaches victims.

The world is trying frantically to help. Japan is providing doctors and rice, China is sending tents and blankets, and aid workers are rushing in from France and Argentina. In total, the world's governments have pledged more than $100 million to relief efforts, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"Tsunami: Wave of Destruction": Charles Gibson anchors a one-hour special tonight at 10 p.m. ET

The International Federation of the Red Cross is asking the public for $44 million. U.N. officials say billions more will be needed for what could be the most massive relief and reconstruction effort in history.

"Millions and millions of people will be damaged by the water," said Jan Egeland, the U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator. "They have seen their livelihoods destroyed. They have lost their homes."

Today the U.S. government increased its offer of help to $35 million, from $15 million, and officials bristled at suggestions that America is stingy.

"The United States has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world," said Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Other countries have pledged $65 million so far. The list of immediate needs is mind-boggling, including food, baby formula, medicine, water purification tablets and body bags.

Water-Borne Dangers

Thousands of corpses must be buried in mass graves to prevent further contamination of water already infused with salt and sewage. Health experts fear thousands may die from water-borne disease. Clean-water storage tanks may not arrive fast enough to keep people from drinking dirty water.

"You can't tell the people to wait for water," said Rich Moseanko of the relief agency World Vision. "You don't know if it [will be] the next day, while they are thirsty and they are standing in water."

The United States and other nations are sending rolls of plastic sheeting to build tent cities. Food supplies are available in the region, but many roads are washed out.

"Just getting to certain locations is going to be a logistics nightmare," said Moseanko.

"We are dealing with vast areas," said John Ohiorhenuan of the U.N. Capital Development Fund. "Most of that access will have to be by helicopters."

U.S. aid groups are working feverishly to raise money. The humanitarian group Direct Relief International will send urgently needed medicines donated by pharmaceutical companies.

Some offers of help are on a much smaller scale. Across the United States, Sri Lankan immigrants are collecting what they can to send home.

"It's so awful -- anything to help," said Rizwan Mowlana, executive director of the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who lost 30 relatives in the disaster.

Relief agencies are asking Americans not to send clothes or shoes, which are produced in places like India and Thailand. Buying those items locally will help the region's economy. Aid groups say Americans should give one thing -- money.

List of Aid Agencies Accepting Contributions for Tsunami Disaster

ABC News' Linda Douglass filed this report for "World News Tonight."

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