World Vision is rushing aid to the most badly damaged regions to assist the estimated ten million people who have been affected by what officials are describing as a major disaster. It follows a smaller cyclone which hit Orissa, India's second poorest state, only twelve days ago.
The whole state of Orissa has been cut off and the capital Bhubaneshwar, which is 90 kilometres from the coast and has a population of approximately two million, appears from the air to be totally underwater.
Because power and communications have been severed with most of Orissa the World Vision office in the state is not able to notify the organisation of its requirements. Also, the fate of the staff and their families is still unknown.
World Vision Australia India Program Officer Diane De Silva says until communications are restored any accurate estimate of the relief aid required can not be calculated, however, food, shelter and medical supplies are being sent to the disaster area to meet immediate needs.
"Official reports indicate that one and a half million people have been left homeless and we are sending in an initial team of 40 relief workers from western India while others remain on standby to go once the scale of the disaster is known," Ms. De Silva said.
World Vision Australia has allocated immediate funds to commence the relief operation and this will increase once the needs are better known.
An Indian Cyclone Appeal has been launched with a target of $300,000 to provide assistance to the victims and Australians are urged to call World Vision with their donations.
Diane De Silva is available for interview in Melbourne.
Ian Neil in Melbourne - (03) 9287-2330 any time (diverts to mobile)
World Vision Indian Cyclone Appeal:
telephone 13 32 40 now