The latest indications are that more than 11,300 people have been killed in the earthquake and tsunami which have hit the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

In Indonesia, the death toll almost doubled within hours from earlier tolls to the current official figure of 4,422 fatalities.

Officials in India now say that 3,000 people have been killed by the tidal waves which followed the earthquake, including at least 1,567 in Tamil Nadu, the region worst affected.

The Sri Lankan goverment says that 3,538 people are now known to have been killed in the disaster, and added it fears the death toll will rise further.

At least 310 people were killed and more than 5,000 injured in Thailand, including at least 66 dead on the island resort of Phuket.

The disaster also led to the deaths of 28 people in Malaysia, where a further 100 were injured, and 10 people in Myanmar.

The quake struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the early morning (just before 1am Irish time), and was later estimated as measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. This would make it the fifth largest earthquake since 1910.

It caused a 30-foot high todal wave or tsunami which devastated coasts throughout the region, hitting Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

Waves generated by later aftershocks continued to batter the coasts as the death toll rose, and tens of thousands lost their homes.