Sweden’s tsunami death toll reaches 428

Police on Thursday said the number of Swedes confirmed dead after the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster in December had reached 428.

The total number of those killed or missing remained unchanged at 544, police said in a statement.

The tsunami, spawned by a massive earthquake off Indonesia, struck countries around the Indian Ocean on December 26, killing an estimated 217,000 people.

As many as 20,000 Swedes were vacationing in the area, mainly in Khao Lak in Thailand, at the time, and the number of the Scandinavian country’s nationals missing was initially feared to be as high as 3,500.

Sweden with its nine million inhabitants remains one of the countries outside of Asia with the highest per capita death toll.

Also on Thursday, police said Swedish ophthalmology professor Bertil Lindblom had taken over as head of DNA identification at the Thai Tsunami Victim Identification centre near Phuket.