The death toll from Sunday's earthquake and tsunami in southern Asia has risen to nearly 70,000, while estimates of the number of missing have also increased.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says fatalities could still increase by tens of thousands as rescue crews and aid workers gain access to more remote areas.

Mr. Annan said billions of dollars may be needed to rebuild what was destroyed. He said the United Nations will issue a formal appeal next week for international aid to cover the costs of the emergency relief operation currently underway, as well as future needs.

Thailand has almost tripled the number of missing to some 4,100, while saying more than 1,600 are confirmed dead.

Indonesian officials say at least 36,000 are now confirmed dead there, but that figure does not include much data from districts on the country's west coast. Initial reports say at least 3,400 bodies have been recovered today (Wednesday) in Meulobah, a town of 40,000 people, which is more than three-quarters destroyed.

Sri Lanka has reported more than 21,000 victims, while India has recorded at least 10,000 deaths. There are also reports of deaths in Burma, Bangladesh and Malaysia, as well as thousands of kilometers away in Tanzania and Somalia.