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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 23:27 GMT
India seeks $1.5bn loan
Families sit among the remains of their homes
Rebuilding the state Gujarat will be a huge task
India is asking the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for $1.5bn in aid to rebuild the western state of Gujarat following Friday's devastating earthquake.


We will continue to stand by the government and people of India as it seeks to clear the rubble of this devastating event

World Bank president James Wolfensohn
The appeal, announced by Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, came as a huge relief operation was launched by the Indian army and estimates of the number of dead rose to 20,000.

"The devastation of the quake is extensive and resources need to be mobilised," said Mr Sinha.

A BBC correspondent says India's public finances were not prepared for a shock like an earthquake on this scale.

Rebuilding and repairing schools, hospitals and government buildings will be a huge task.

The country is facing months, possibly years of recovery work following the earthquake.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said that the cost of the earthquake to the Indian economy would probably exceed $800m.


We cannot leave our brothers and sisters to the mercy of fate or the cruelty or vagaries of nature

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
In a statement issued in New Delhi, the World Bank said it was in talks with India's government about its needs and how it could help.

Its president, James Wolfensohn, said: "We will continue to stand by the government and people of India as it seeks to clear the rubble of this devastating event."

In a separate development, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee appeal to the nation for donations to help the quake victims.

"This is the worst earthquake independent India has seen," he said. "You can help to meet shortage by contributing money, no matter how small the amount.

"We cannot leave our brothers and sisters to the mercy of fate or the cruelty or vagaries of nature.

"At this moment they need our help to tide over the calamity that has fallen upon them, to survive, to rebuild their lives as best as they can."

See also:

28 Jan 01 | South Asia
India aid effort struggles to cope
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