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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 January, 2005, 16:01 GMT
Guru pledges $23m tsunami relief
Indian guru Mata Amritanandamayi, or Amma, in Cochin, India
Amma - moved by the tragedy
One of India's most famous women gurus has pledged a billion rupees ($23m) to help survivors of the Asian tsunami.

Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma or Mother, says the money will be used to rebuild homes destroyed in the disaster.

Her charitable trust says each new house will consist of two rooms, a kitchen, a small veranda and a toilet.

The news came as India's government said the disaster had left at least 9,571 dead and 5,914 missing.

Temporary shelters

"Amma is moved and anguished by the colossal tragedy," a spokeswoman for her trust told the Associated Press news agency.

The trust's website says that as thousands of people in southern India have been made homeless, work has already begun on building temporary shelters to house some of them until the new homes are completed.

It says that it is allocating $23 (1,000 rupees) to each family in the Amritapuri area who had a home that was destroyed.

Survivors of the tsunami
Children have been hard hit in the disaster
Correspondents say that the money pledged is higher than the amount promised by many international aid groups and business leaders.

The trust owns 10 acres of land where the temporary homes will be built, and says its relief work will not in any way interfere with the government's efforts.

It has also announced that free education and counselling will be provided to those children who have lost both parents in the tragedy.

Mata Amritanandamayi is best known for hugging people as a form of blessing and therapy.

She is estimated to have to have hugged at least 21 million people in the past 30 years.

Her trust - which provides homes, schools and medical care - operates in 15 countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The international community has so far pledged more than two billion dollars in disaster aid, but the UN has warned that some nations and donors may not honour their promises.

"At the end of the day we will not receive all of it," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday.


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