The cyclone struck the state of Orissa already one of the poorest in India - on 28th October. Winds of up to 150 miles per hour tore into the region, and a tidal wave 10 foot high swept all before it. It is estimated that at least 10 million people have been affected by the disaster and two million made homeless. Thousands are thought to have been killed, with many more missing: -None of the menfolk have returned from the sea since Friday, said one survivor at the fishing port of Paradip today.
Roads have been destroyed and bridges swept away. Up to 1,500 villages are thought to have been destroyed, and many others are being emptied as people leave to look for food. Drinking water has been contaminated and there are fears that disease will spread. Already children have contracted diarrhoea, which can prove fatal unless treated within days.
DEC charities are already working where they can in the region. They report an urgent need for food, clean water, shelter and medicines. A DEC spokesman says: Millions of people have been made destitute overnight and left without livelihoods. Crops have been destroyed and livestock killed. Britain's major charities are now appealing for money to help people cope with this dreadful catastrophe.
Notes to editors
1. The Disasters Emergency Committee is made up of the UK's leading international development and relief charities. During emergencies, member charities unite to raise funds in the UK. Charities involved in the India Cyclone appeal are: ActionAid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.
2. The DEC will launch its appeal at 10.30 am on Tuesday 9 November at the Institute of Physics, 76-78 Portland Place, London W1N 3DH. Until then, the public can help by giving money through any of the individual charities involved.
3. The DEC ensures independent evaluation of how appeal money was spent.
For further information contact: DEC Press Office 0171 580 6500. Out of hours 07880 881651 www.dec.org.uk