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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 07:09 GMT
Tsunami appeal close to 1m mark
The Black Santa appeal has raised almost 1m
The Black Santa appeal has raised almost 1m
The Dean of Belfast has said that the Black Santa appeal for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster is on course to raise more than 1m.

Reverend Houston McKelvey said that politicians should learn lessons from the generous spirit of the people.

Meanwhile, a massive shipment of aid from Northern Ireland has begun its journey to Thailand.

About 40,000 items of clothing were packed into air freight containers at a collection point in Banbridge.

The consignment of children's wear and underclothes had been brought to the church hall in Seapatrick, County Down, from about 100 centres across Northern Ireland.

The aid was taken to Dublin on Wednesday evening from where it will be transported to Thailand, one of the countries devastated by the massive waves which hit the coast of south-east Asia on 26 December.

Relief organiser Clifford McSpadden praised the work of volunteers
Relief organiser Clifford McSpadden praised the work of volunteers

Relief organiser Clifford McSpadden said: "Over 100 churches of all denominations were filled with people from all communities over these last few days and they have done a fantastic job.

"It is just a privilege to have an opportunity to do what we can in Northern Ireland to help the families who are so much worse off than we are."

Two sisters of a County Tyrone man missing in Thailand since the disaster are due to arrive in the country on Thursday to look for him.

Conor Keightley, 31, from Cookstown, was on holiday when the tsunami struck and has not been heard from since just before Christmas.

His sisters, Michelle McCaughey and Darina Duffin, will arrive in Phuket on Thursday and plan to stay for a week searching for him.


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