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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Jan. 4) – The Marshall Islands parliament interrupted its official opening ceremony Monday for a moment of silence for the tens of thousands of people who died from tsunamis that hit coastlines in South and Southeast Asia on December 26.

President Kessai Note also announced Monday a week of national mourning in the Marshall Islands for the countries that suffered from the impact of the tsunamis caused by the world’s biggest earthquake in 40 years.

Flags were lowered to half-mast around the Marshall Islands following the president’s declaration, and will remain lowered through the weekend.

In impromptu remarks prior to delivering a prepared speech at the ceremonial opening session of the parliament Monday, Note commented that the number of people who died had reached 140,000 and was continuing to rise on a daily basis.

The death toll is already more than twice the population of the Marshall Islands.

The 300 people attending the parliament ceremony rose to join Note in a moment of silence.

An independent group comprised of business, government and women leaders in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, announced on Monday a fundraising drive to help with recovery efforts in Asia.

January 4, 2004

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