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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 08:32 GMT
Firms pitch in with tsunami aid
Fishing boats damaged by tsunami in India
Livelihoods as well as lives have been destroyed
Companies around the world are ramping up their contributions to the relief effort for victims of the Asian tsunami, the United Nations says.

Delivery firms are providing warehouses and vehicles to UN agencies to ease logistical problems and other firms are donating millions of dollars.

Telecoms firms, meanwhile, are sending staff to rebuild shattered networks.

More than 150,000 people have died, with millions left homeless and economies ravaged across the region.

"We're very, very happy with the level of corporate donations," World Health Organisation crisis co-ordinator David Nabarro told AP.

Hands-on help

Among those firms contributing in kind are DHL, which is giving free use of warehouses in Jakarta to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and sending planes to help transport aid.

Fellow delivery firm TNT is donating trucks to take aid from Jakarta to Aceh province, the worst-hit area of Indonesia.

Both firms are part of the Disaster Resource Network, an organisation started by members of the World Economic Forum in 2002.

Other firms in the network are helping manage incoming cargo at Sri Lanka's main international airport in Colombo.

Indian victims reaching out for food aid
Logistical problems are hampering the relief effort
Aside from transport assistance, telecoms firms are working to re-establish communications trashed by the tsunami.

British Telecom, Cable & Wireless and DaimlerChrysler have all sent engineers to the region.

Other practical assistance has included drugs from companies such as Altana in Germany and Sanofi-Aventis in France, as well as food aid from firms such as Switzerland's Nestle.

Cash

New donations on Tuesday included $5m (2.7m) apiece from the US's Dow Chemical and UK bank Standard Chartered; 2m euros ($2.65m; 1.4m) from Swiss insurer Zurich Financial; 1m euros from German insurer Allianz; and $1m from French telecoms group Alcatel.

Other donors to date include Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Exxon and Microsoft in the US, and BP, HSBC and Vodafone from the UK.

Many firms such as BASF in Germany are offering to match their staffs' donations, while some European mobile phone companies say they will give up to one euro for every text message sent to a crisis hotline.

In Asia, Australia's Qantas, Fosters and several others giving 1m Australian dollars ($760,000; 400,000) apiece.

News Corp - now listed in the US but still headquartered in Australia - contributed US$1m.

Japanese companies have traditionally been slower to participate in charitable activities.

But with many exporters running big manufacturing operations in the region - and thanks to a particularly strong existing aid relationship with Sri Lanka - the tsunami crisis is different.

Toyota Motor is donating a minimum of 100m yen ($960,000; 510,000), with Matsushita sending 20m yen along with food packages and thousands of electric torches and batteries.

Among others, Toshiba is donating 22m yen, Hitachi is giving 20m yen and food maker Ajinomoto says it is donating 40m yen.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Economist Seijiro Takeshita on the aid donations



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