Indonesia's government has started breaking ground on four camps around Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra, to shelter some of the estimated 1 million people left homeless there by the tsunami.
As the camps are raised, world leaders are heading to Jakarta to discuss how to distribute billions of dollars in aid.
The United Nations plans to provide tents and equipment for up to 500,000, said Michael Elmquist, who heads the U.N. relief effort in Aceh.
The existing camps are overcrowded and lack facilities. Indonesian authorities have agreed the new camps will have clean drinking water and latrines, Elmquist said.
"The camps that are here have been improvised by the people themselves," he said. "But these are definitely not according to our standards. The sanitation is totally insufficient."
Secretary of State Colin Powell flew over the devastated coastlines in northern Sumatra, andreports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.
"I've been in war and I've been through a number of hurricanes, tornados and other relief operations, but I've never seen anything like this," he said.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday pledged $674 million in long-term tsunami aid, the largest commitment from a single country. Japan has pledged $500 million, the United States $350 million.
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Powell were among the officials expected in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, for a summit on tsunami relief that begins Thursday.
Already more than $2 billion has been pledged from around the world to help the millions of victims rebuild from the Dec. 26 tsunami. There have been 140,000 confirmed deaths from the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rattled the ocean floor and sent massive waves crashing across beachfront communities from southern Asia to Africa on Dec. 26.
Across Europe, politicians, shoppers and businesses held a three-minute silent tribute for tsunami victims Wednesday. TV and radio stations interrupted programming. Church bells rang across Switzerland. In Finland, a lone Helsinki taxi driver stood next to his car with his head bowed.
"Because everyone has to bear this heavy burden of sorrow ... I, too, in my small way, wanted to observe the silence," said Eila Tammilehto.
The U.N. has performed rapid assessments in countries hit by the tsunami, and Thursday's meeting aims to get donors to commit to specific aid and reconstruction projects, said Bo Asplund, U.N. representative in Indonesia.
Topping the list of demands is Indonesia, Asplund said, with some $450 million required under a U.N. appeal for the country that suffered at least 94,200 deaths.
Bringing together representatives of all the affected countries will allow aid officials to get commitments for relief for at least the next six months, said Elmquist. The countries also hope to prevent future disasters by creating ain the Indian Ocean.
Another issue on the agenda will be possible debt relief to affected countries, many of which are developing nations that rely on international assistance. Britain's top treasury official has said the world's richest nations are likely to freeze debt repayments and may even forgive debts to countries hit by the tsunami.
Marine helicopters on Wednesday buzzed into Medan, Indonesia, not to bring food in, but to take supplies away.
Aid has flooded into Medan and the supplies had been stacked in disorganized piles near a warehouse at the city's airport, an overwhelming amount beyond what was immediately needed in the area.
Desperate to get the supplies to hard-to-reach areas on Sumatra's west coast, CH-46 helicopters from the USS Bonhomme Richard launched an airlift operation Wednesday morning to bring the aid back to their ship.
Meanwhile, the fragility of relief efforts was underscored by the temporary closure Tuesday of the main, overstretched airport in Sumatra because of cows on the runway. On Wednesday, a load of aid supplies fell from a U.S. helicopter over the island's city of Medan, hitting a shopping mall. No one was hurt.
Pilots were ferrying survivors from hard-hit towns and villages in the region to medical help. But that created a new challenge for relief workers: bottlenecks at overcrowded hospitals.
About a dozen people lay on stretchers on the sidewalk outside Fakina Hospital in Banda Aceh. Many of the hospital's rooms had no power. Walls were flecked with blood and doctors had run out of stands for intravenous fluid bags, hanging them from cords strung across the ceiling.
The call to clean up is also on in Thailand, CBS News Correspondent
"Everybody just tucked in, worked hard," Brennan said. "Work, work, work, and just get it there."
More than 2,200 foreign tourists were among 5,000 killed in Thailand.
Police and U.N. officials have expressed fears that trafficking gangs will exploit the chaos of the disaster to abduct children and sell them into forced labor or even sexual slavery.
In Aceh, U.N. officials said broken bones and infected wounds are the biggest health problem facing staff in overflowing hospitals.
Staff at the hospitals in Banda Aceh said that many people had infected wounds sustained in the disaster, some of which were turning gangrenous, forcing surgeons to amputate limbs.
In Thailand, rescue workers freed a humpback dolphin from a small lagoon where the tsunami dumped it, returning it to the Andaman Sea.
The dolphin, spotted Monday about a half a mile from the beach by a man searching for his missing wife, had become a symbol of hope amid the death and destruction.