India

Family fear woman aids India quake appeal

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A woman anxious over the safety of relatives and friends in the Indian state of Gujarat, devastated by last weeks earthquake which killed an estimated 30,000, will today help launch the Disasters Emergencies Committees India Earthquake Appeal.
One of 150 volunteers, Puss Varsani will take donations from telephone callers in response to the joint appeal by 14 of the UKs best-known aid charities, all members of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Mrs Varsani, a BT secretary from Wembley, Middlesex, has heard nothing about the welfare of loved ones in Bhuj, the earthquakes epicentre.

She will help answer the expected huge numbers of calls from television viewers to the hotline donation number this evening after the DEC appeal is broadcast on BBC and ITV.

Mrs Varsani said: I have three brothers, two sisters and in-laws in Britain. But none of us know what has happened to our family members and friends in Bhuj. When BT asked for volunteers, I thought I must support the appeal.

The DEC appeal launches as concern grows in Gujarat about health hazards posed by decomposing bodies and the lack of basic water supplies and adequate sanitation.

Prince David, Regional Adviser for DEC member Tearfund, reported that almost every family has survivors who suffered injury - whether bruising or broken bones.

There is also a need for water purifying tablets and cholrine because bodies are still trapped beneath buildings and they are decomposing in the high day time temperatures, he reported. A cholera epidemic must be avoided at all costs.

ends

Notes to Editors:

1. Volunteers will be answering telephones at the British Telecom Tower, 60, Cleveland Street, London W1P 6EA from 655pm on Thursday 1 February.

2. An Oxfam flight, carrying =A3140,000 worth of specialist water equipment, plastic sheeting and blankets will leave from Kent International Airport on Friday 2 February. This will provide aid for between 30,000 and 40,000 people. Trucks will be loading at Oxfams Aid Warehouse in Bicester, Oxfordshire at 6am, Friday morning, with the flight due to leave that evening.

3. The Disasters Emergency Committee is made up of the UKs leading international development and relief charities. The member agencies of the DEC are ActionAid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Childrens Fund (CCF), Childrens Aid Direct, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

4. The DEC ensures independent evaluation of how appeal money is spent. To donate to the DEC India Earthquake Appeal, call 0870 60 60 900. Credit card donations can be made on-line at http://www.dec.org.uk. Postal donations can be sent to DEC India Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA.

For further information, contact the DEC Press Office 020 7580 6550, e-mail press1@dec.org.uk. More information about the launch can be found on http://www.dec.org.uk.