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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 13:30 GMT
Net mobilises to help Venezuela

refugees Tens of thousands of refugees have been created by the floods

The disaster in Venezuela has created a huge response from internet communities across the world.

Requests for relief help, guidance for flood victims and appeals for information about lost relatives or friends have all featured on websites.

The Venezuelan Government has mobilised its response on the net with details on where and how to find help.

Our country is experiencing one of its most difficult hours. Domestic resources are insufficient to face this calamity.
Venezuelan Embassy in US
The site provides information about people who are missing, as well as those who have been found alive and well. There are also details about shelters for the thousands of people many homeless by the devastating floods.

It is unclear how many people in the disaster zones will be able to access the information as reports say telephone lines are down.

A number of unofficial sites are featuring appeals for missing people, others are giving details of where people made homeless by the floods are now being accommodated.

One site even has photographs of people missing from Valencia, one of the towns badly affected by the disaster.

Message boards

Chat forums on many sites including BBC News Online are being inundated with requests for information about missing relatives or friends.

"My daughter lives in Catia La Mar and I haven't heard from her," read one message.

"I am very worried as the last time I spoke to my daughter was Tuesday 14 December."

The Rescate 2000 (Rescue 2000) site is also featuring offers of help from individuals in finding missing persons.

At its US embassy, the Venezuelan Government is also appealing for financial support with lists of organisations to which donations and relief supplies can be sent.

The site has a list of medical and other supplies which are urgently needed such as wheelchairs, stretchers and splints.

It is also appealing for equipment to help cope with the thousands of refugees, including tents, water treatment plants and even basic tools like shovels and picks.

The international community has also been playing its part.

Unicef in Britain has launched a disaster appeal fund as have numerous relief and refugee assistance agencies.

Among them are the American Red Cross, the American Jewish World Service, the Catholic Relief Services and World Vision.

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See also:
21 Dec 99 |  Americas
Venezuela struggles to cope
20 Dec 99 |  Americas
Victims tell of flood nightmare
21 Dec 99 |  Medical notes
Venezuela: The health risks
19 Dec 99 |  Americas
In pictures: Venezuela's flood chaos

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