Joanna Lumley condemns media's 'great lack of response' to India's cyclone

Actress Joanna Lumley fronted a joint campaign by 11 UK aid agencies and asked people to give whatever they could to help the victims of India's devastating cyclone.

Actress Joanna Lumley fronted a joint campaign by 11 UK aid agencies and asked people to give whatever they could to help the victims of India's devastating cyclone.

Speaking this morning she criticised television news for not giving the disaster air-time saying "television can distance the world from us as well as bring it closer."

The Absolutely Fabulous star, who was born in India, said that 12 days after the storm, the area was "a scene of hell".

She is backing an appeal launched by the Disasters Emergency Committee, made up of 11 of Britain's biggest aid charities.

"I am begging people for whatever they can give, no matter how little. Every last penny will go there - the smallest amount of money can help," she told GMTV.

"It is completely horrific. It is a catastrophe over there. We cannot turn our backs on this."

It is estimated that 15 million people were affected by the disaster and up to 10,000 people died on October 28 when cyclone 05B hit Orissa, one of the poorest parts of India.

When winds of 150 mph tore into the region, followed by a 10ft tidal wave, 1,500 villages were destroyed, leaving about two million homeless.

"Now emerging from this is a scene of hell. There are rotting corpses of both humans and animals. The water is contaminated and people are starving," Lumley said.

The appeal hopes to provide medical aid, shelter and food for millions affected by the storm.

The actress said that just £5 could buy 10 blankets, while £30 could purify water for 1,000 people.

She will appear alongside actor Tom Conti in a series of TV fund-raising broadcasts today, while Streetmate presenter Davina McCall is taking to the street to collect cash.

The DEC charities already working in the region - including Oxfam, the British Red Cross Society and Save the Children - have reported an urgent need for food, clean water, shelter and medicines.

Drinking water has been contaminated and there are fears that diseases like cholera and malaria will spread.

A DEC spokesman said: "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."

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