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New inquiries to NZ Red Cross call centre drop

New inquiries to New Zealand Red Cross call centre drop

New inquiries to the New Zealand Red Cross South Asia Tsunami call centre have dropped off significantly over the past 24 hours.

The call centre is receiving about 50 calls an hour – about half to inquire about family and friends or to report contact, and about half to offer assistance. About 10 calls an hour are now new inquiries, and just one or two of those are from immediate family.

The call centre hours have now been cut back from around the clock to 8am-midnight.

Of the 8000 calls estimated to have been taken by the call centre, about 1000 people have phoned to offer their assistance to the Red Cross in the disaster area, New Zealand Red Cross Operations Manager Andrew McKie says.

“There is a huge willingness to help however human resources are coordinated by the International Red Cross in Geneva and thousands of existing Red Cross workers, who are trained and experienced in working in disaster-stricken areas, are being deployed from National Societies,” Mr McKie says.

“New Zealand Red Cross is however keeping a database of offers of assistance and will share the database with NZAID, the Government’s overseas aid and development agency.”

Many of the calls have also been to donate to the Red Cross South Asia Tsunami appeal. The call centre received its largest donation to date today - $20,000 from one concerned New Zealander.

The Red Cross South Asia Tsunami appeal stands at over $2 million. The majority of donations have been made through the 0900 31 100 appeal number, which accepts automatic $20 donations. Donations can also be made at www.redcross.org.nz, or at branches of the ASB, BNZ, Westpac, TSB, ANZ and National Banks and at all Countdown, Woolworths and Foodtown supermarkets.

All money raised will go directly to providing relief, as the Red Cross takes no money from special appeals for administration costs and Telecom has waived its standard 70-cent charge on each 0900 phone donation.

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