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Sri Lanka destroys food aid withheld from tsunami victims

by Staff Writers
Colombo (AFP) Oct 17, 2008
Sri Lanka said Friday it would destroy a consignment of more than five tonnes of rotting rice and lentils meant for victims of the December 2004 Asian tsunami.

District officials in the southern city of Galle said the food aid had not been distributed among the needy in the coastal town of Habaraduwa due to bureaucratic bungling.

"It's the fault of the cooperative society in Habaraduwa which was supposed to distribute the rice and lentils, but for some reason they have not done their job and try to blame us," district official Saman Jayasekara told AFP.

Independent auditors have reported that only a fraction of the outpouring of international and local aid for victims of the tsunami here actually reached the intended recipients.

A spokesman for the Habaraduwa cooperative society, Samantha Weligamage, said it was sent the food stocks by the district secretariat, which coordinated tsunami aid without any instructions on how to distribute the food.

"The tinned fish we got was already unsuitable for consumption. We have returned the rice and lentils and they have also been declared unfit for human consumption now," Weligamage said.

He said the food had originally come from the World Food Program.

There was no immediate comment from the World Food Program which took a lead role in distributing food to one million people in Sri Lanka, one of the worst affected by the tsunami that killed an estimated 31,000 people.

The state auditor general in September 2005 noted out of 1.16 billion dollars committed to assist Sri Lankan victims, only 13.5 percent had actually been spent.

Since then, there have been no audit reports published on tsunami aid.

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China quake rumour-monger jailed for four years: court
Beijing (AFP) Oct 17, 2008
A 19-year-old man who hacked into a government website just after southwest China's devastating earthquake and warned of another huge tremor has been jailed for four years, a court said Friday.

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