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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 13:07 GMT
Online appeals for loved ones
People watch rescue workers, Ahmedabad
It is an anxious time for survivors of the quake
The devastating earthquake in the western Indian state of Gujarat has sent fear and confusion into Indian communities around the world, with people desperate to find out if their friends and family are safe.


In times like this, living abroad we feel helpless as there is no clear news coming out of the Bhuj area

Ravji Halai, London
BBC News Online's Talking Point section has received hundreds of e-mails - some with offers of help, some asking for news of their loved ones, and others simply expressing their emotions.

Many people have been writing of their own experiences in the earthquake.

"I have no courage to describe what is happening here in Ahmedabad," Ramnik Mistry told BBC News Online. "The death toll is rising higher and higher.

"It's difficult to establish telephone connections."

Mukul Karandikar, e-mailing from Ahmedabad, said: "It was heartbreaking and no-one knew what was happening as most of them had never experienced an earthquake before."

Community appeals

The earthquake struck on Friday morning as many people were waking up or having breakfast.


I have witnessed a horrible experience of my life. I will be happy if I could be help for someone. Please feel free to contact me

Mukul Padhya, Ahmedabad
"The people of our apartments were shouting 'come down, come down', our television and cupboard were shaking like some soul was doing so," said Sanjay Thakkar, in Ahmedabad.

" We could not understand what was happening to our apartment as we were still half asleep. We were shocked when we went down on the road to save our lives and heard from our neighbours that there was a severe earthquake.

"I've never seen such a severe earthquake in all my life."

News from the city has been filtering out, but communications have been difficult. For friends and relatives overseas it has been a traumatic time.

"Sitting far [away] and unable to do anything except to communicate with the telephone lines is not a nice feeling, especially when the near and the dear ones are in the affected areas," said Ketan Jansari, e-mailing from Germany.

And in London, Ravji Halai appealed for fellow Indians in London to get together by e-mail to try to help in some way.

"In times like this, living abroad we feel helpless as there is no clear news coming out of the Bhuj area. Is there something we can do as a community from Bhuj living in London?" he said.

He also asked people to email him on hayna_halai@hotmail.com if they had any news of the village of Kundanpur, near Kera, Bhuj, where his parents live.

Support

Another Londoner who offered to help exchange information is Dinesh Bhudia Patel (http://www.sklpconline.co.uk/), who said: "Guys and gals: why don't we all exchange e-mails - pass to me if you like. I can then circulate to all any news as it comes in. We can all then update each other."

He told BBC News Online he had had hundreds e-mails from around the world, offering telephone numbers and other help.

"I spent the whole weekend answering them," he said.

"We have already raised about 250,000 as a community and this number is increasing."

Some people who have managed to telephone relatives in the affected area, have e-mailed BBC News Online with the news they have heard, some in response to queries from other readers.

In Ahmedabad itself, there have been several offers of help for those wanting news or somewhere to stay.

Click here to read more, or tell us of your own experiences.

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | South Asia
Desperate search for quake survivors
28 Jan 01 | South Asia
India seeks $1.5bn loan
27 Jan 01 | South Asia
Rival Pakistan offers India help
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