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Massive response to South Asia Emergency Appeal

Massive response to South Asia Emergency Appeal

New Zealand Red Cross has been inundated with donations and inquries to its national emergency call centre over the past 24 hours.

The South Asia Emergency call centre is estimated to have received about 2000 calls in its first 24 hours. In many cases, several family members have phoned to inquire about the same person, or family have called back after hearing from relatives previously thought missing.

Detailed information from concerned relatives and friends is being recorded and passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which will match details with information being gathered from other sources, such as overseas staff and embassies.

New Zealand Red Cross Operations Manager Andrew McKie said many calls had also been to make offers of help. New Zealand Red Cross has taken about $80,000 in telephone donations for the South Asia Emergency Appeal. “The rush of donations over the past two days, co-inciding with the holiday period, caused some problems for our 0900 number but those have now been worked through,” Mr McKie said.

Donations are also now being accepted at all branches of the ASB, BNZ, Westpac, ANZ and National Banks in New Zealand and at all Countdown, Woolworths and Foodtown supermarkets.

Mr McKie said the response had been over-whelming. “We have had people walk in off the street with cheques for as much as $500. We’ve had individual donations today of $1000.”

While New Zealand Red Cross had also received offers of clothing and blankets, and offers of assistance from tradespeople and professionals, Mr McKie said that only cash donations were currently being accepted.

“The Red Cross has an assessment team in affected countries looking at what relief is required but in most cases the resources that are needed will be available locally and it will be important for their recovery that local people be involved in the rebuilding,” Mr McKie said.

The 0800 RED CROSS call centre will continue to operate between 8am and midnight for as long as necessary.

“We are very grateful to all the people who have volunteered to assist with taking calls. It is making our job of assisting concerned family and friends so much easier.”

$20 donations to the New Zealand Red Cross appeal can be made by phoning 0900 31 100.

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