Updated at 1.10pm: Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on Thursday praised Hong Kong people?s generosity in helping victims of the South Asian tsunami. In a speech to the Red Cross Red Crescent Tsunami Response Forum held at the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, Mr Tsang said the tsunami was one of the ?worst natural disasters in modern history?. ?More than 150,000 lives were lost. Thousands of people remain missing, and the exact number of victims will probably never be known,?? Mr Tsang said. Following an earthquake on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, tsunamis devastated South Asia on December 26. Total deaths are estimated to be around 234,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless and jobless. Sixteen Hong Kong people died in the tragedy. The chief secretary noted that millions more had lost their homes and livelihoods, but it had resulted in a massive worldwide humanitarian response. ?People and nations around the globe were stirred into action to offer donations and other forms of assistance,?? he said. Mr Tsang said Hong Kong people had been moved by the suffering of the victims. Many people from the territory had been holidaying in the area. ?Very quickly, the Hong Kong community mobilised to help the tsunami victims and their families,?? he said. Hongkongers should be proud of their generosity and strong sense of global citizenship as demonstrated in their $500 million overall donations, he said. ?This outpouring of compassion put Hong Kong people among the biggest per capita private donors in the world,? he said. Although it has been two months since the disaster, he said, the real work has only just begun. And he praised the forum for mobilising relief and reconstruction efforts. Mr Tsang is widely tipped to become the territory?s next Chief Executive, although so far he has refused to make any comment.