Baltimore (IOCC) - International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is stepping up its emergency response to Sunday's massive earthquake/tsunami in South Asia by working through its ecumenical and Orthodox Church partners to deliver life-saving relief supplies.
IOCC is working with His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia to extend the network of church-based humanitarian relief in the region.
"IOCC stands ready to support the Metropolitanate in this effort with financial, material and human resources," said IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou. "This is a terrible disaster and we must all do everything in our power to help these people with their immediate needs and support their long term recovery."
Together with its longtime partner, Church World Service (CWS), IOCC is developing a regional response to the crisis, focusing initially on hardest-hit areas in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand and elsewhere, and CWS disaster assessment and relief teams are already in the region now.
The fourth largest earthquake in recorded history wreaked major destruction across nearly a dozen countries in South Asia. The initial quake, which struck 100 miles off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island at around 7 a.m. Sunday, measured 9.0 on the Richter scale.
The undersea quakes triggered enormous tidal waves that swept across the Indian Ocean, striking coastal regions of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Burma and Malaysia, and elsewhere. The death toll, which continues to rise, is now estimated at more than 135,000.
As part of its regional relief effort, IOCC is helping to support CWS airlifts of critical medical and shelter supplies valued at $4,000,000 to the region, including shipments of supplies from the Church of the Brethren warehouse facility in New Windsor, Md.
Emergency supplies include family shelter kits containing tents, plastic sheeting, and other shelter essentials for families rendered homeless by the disaster, and medical kits with urgently needed medicines and medical supplies. This initial phase also will involve shipping thousands of blankets, "Gift of the Heart" health kits and other relief supplies to Indonesia for distribution by CWS disaster response teams there.
IOCC is grateful for the outpouring of support in reaching its initial goal of $100,000 and has increased its goal to $250,000 based on the need for immediate and long-term assistance. This appeal will continue to be updated as response and recovery actions continue and expand in the coming days and as the long-term recovery effort is evaluated.
IOCC is encouraging Orthodox Christians to assemble "Gift of the Heart" health kits for shipment by CWS to the areas hardest hit by the tsunami. To learn more about assembling the health kits, please visit www.iocc.org/healthkits.
Donations for IOCC's "Asia Disaster Response" may be sent to IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, MD 21263-0225. Donations may also be made online at www.iocc.org or by calling toll-free 1-877-803-IOCC (4622).