LAMPUUK, Indonesia -- George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton traveled yesterday to the ground zero of tsunami devastation, describing the destruction as unimaginable and promising survivors who begged for shelter that more help would come.
On the second day of their relief mission to the region, the two former leaders flew in US military helicopters from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, over a barren landscape that was once a patchwork of rice paddies, to Lampuuk, where the sole structure left standing is a large white mosque.
The village had 6,500 inhabitants before the Dec. 26 disaster; 700 remain.
Bush reassured villagers who greeted them: ''You're going to be OK. A lot of people around the world want to help."
Clinton asked villager Akhi Sukri what the survivors needed most.
''They need everything," Sukri replied.
Standing amid the debris of Lampuuk, Clinton said seeing the destruction firsthand helped him understand how so many people died.
The official death toll ranges from 169,070 to 178,118.
The number of missing is believed to be as high as 128,426, with most presumed dead.