The United States dispatched disaster teams today and prepared a $15 million aid package to the Asian countries hit by a massive earthquake and tsunamis. U.S. officials were seeking...

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WASHINGTON – The United States dispatched disaster teams today and prepared a $15 million aid package to the Asian countries hit by a massive earthquake and tsunamis. U.S. officials were seeking to contact hundreds of Americans who remain unaccounted for in the region.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said eight Americans died in the natural disaster, and that embassy officials were trying to locate other U.S. citizens who have not been heard from since Sunday’s quake.

“We will do everything we can to immediately help,” Powell said.

U.S. officials immediately sent $100,000 each to India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and planned to donate $4 million later today to help Red Cross disaster efforts, Powell said.

The initial U.S. aid package being crafted was expected to reach $15 million, officials said. Powell cautioned that was a “quick infusion” and that the administration was prepared to help with long-term rebuilding.

U.S. Agency for International Development groups were sent to Thailand and Indonesia to make assessments and the team in Indonesia will go on to Sri Lanka, the officials said.

The U.S. Navy said it sent three P-3 surveillance aircraft from Kadena air base on the Japanese island of Okinawa to Utaphao, Thailand, to conduct survey operations, including a possible role in search-and-rescue efforts.

The Navy said it had no reports of damage to any of its ships or bases in the region.

President Bush expressed his condolences over the “terrible loss of life and suffering,” said the White House statement issued aboard Air Force One. Bush was traveling from Washington to Texas, where he was beginning a post-Christmas vacation at his Crawford ranch.