Charities join forces for disaster appeal

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The Independent Online

In a major appeal backed by The Independent, 14 of Britain's leading charities are joining forces to raise money for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Gujarat.

In a major appeal backed by The Independent, 14 of Britain's leading charities are joining forces to raise money for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Gujarat.

The disaster, the largest of its kind in India for half a century, has taken at least 15,000 lives and possibly as many as 100,000. Some 200,000 people have been left injured and half a million are homeless. The cost of reconstruction is put at $5bn (£3.4bn) or more.

"We know that the British people will respond - and respond generously and quickly," said Brendan Gormley, chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the umbrella group running the appeal. "As the death toll rises and the scale of the disaster becomes more apparent, funds are desperately needed for relief work. We must help in every way we can so that the people of Gujarat can rebuild their shattered lives."

The DEC has run appeals for emergencies since 1963, most recently to assist refugees from the 1999 Kosovo war and victims of last year's floods in Mozambique.

The charities involved are Christian Aid, Cafod, Care International, Oxfam, the British Red Cross, the Christian Children's Fund, Children's Aid Direct, Concern, Help the Aged, Merlin, Tearfund, World Vision, Save the Children and Actionaid.

The group's representatives in Gujarat report an urgent need for funds. "Whole villages have disappeared and in Bhuj, near the quake's epicentre, almost all buildings have been destroyed," the DEC said last night.

"Hospitals are in ruins and hundreds of thousands were sleeping in the open air with little access to clear water and adequate food supplies."

The appeal is being launched tomorrow at the Telecom Tower, 60 Cleveland Street, London W1, at 11am.

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