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Help the cyclone victims of Orissa, India

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    Help the cyclone victims of Orissa, India

    Cyclone feared to have killed more than 10,000 and affected about 20 million people.

    Tens of thousands of starving cyclone victims in eastern India clogged elevated sections of national highway Wednesday, forcibly stopping any passing vehicle in their search for food.
    After five days without proper food and shelter, villagers whose homes were swept away by the cyclone that slammed into coastal Orissa state last Friday, have been further weakened by illness.
    Forced to drink foul water from nearby fields choked with the rotting carcasses of livestock, many children have contracted chronic diarrhoea, which aid officials warn could prove fatal unless treated within the next few days.
    Along a 20-kilometer (12-mile) stretch of highway leading into the port town of Paradip, which bore the brunt of the cyclone's ferocity, thousands of villagers grabbed at any vehicle, pleading for food and drinking water.
    Aggression was mixed with desperation as they forced cars, trucks and even the odd motorcycle to stop and searched them for any hidden provisions.
    "When we found ourselves alive after the cyclone, we thought we were lucky," said Sudhakar Nayak, a 32-year-old farmer, whose village on the outskirts of Pardip was completely submerged by storm waters.
    "But now we think it would have been better had we died. Anything would have been better than the way we are living now."
    The stench from the bloated cattle carcasses was overpowering, and those villagers lucky enough to have escaped with more than the clothes they were wearing, had fashioned masks to cover their noses and mouths.
    While some food parcels had been dropped by army helicopters on Tuesday, the quantity was woefully inadequate and there had been no fresh air drops since.
    "We have been surviving on unripe papaya and some uncooked spinach leaves," said Radhamani Devi, 65. "God knows how long we can keep going like this."
    Drinking water is a major concern, with a lack of kerosene making it impossible to boil the adulterated water and make it fit for consumption.
    In Paradip itself, the smell of death came not just from cattle, but also human corpses being washed up on the coast nearby.
    The port's sprawling slum of around 20,000 people had simply disappeared -- replaced by a swamp where the water reached neck-high in places.
    Earthmovers and dumpers were being used to shunt together the animal remains and gather the human corpses for a mass cremation.
    Local MP Trilochan Kanungo MP predicted that the final death toll in the district would run into the thousands, as many villages had been totally wiped out by tidal waves and 260 kilometer-per-hour winds.
    The rotting corpses heightened the risk of water-borne disease that could spread unchecked due to a lack of essential medicines, especially anti-biotics.
    Anger against the authorities was widespread, with many complaining they had been forgotten and totally left to fend for themselves.
    Some seemed resigned to a long period in the open and were building makeshift shelters by the side of the highway out of driftwood and any other materials they could gather from the debris left by the storm.
    In Oslo President Bill Clinton on Tuesday offered $2.1 million in emergency food and shelter supplies to victims of a killer cyclone in India, and expressed condolences on behalf of Americans.
    ``Our hearts go out to the Indian people, and we are prepared to do what we can to help,'' Clinton said in a statement issued by the White House during a visit by the president to the Norwegian capital.
    ``On behalf of all Americans, Hillary and I offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones to the devastating cyclone that struck eastern India Friday and Saturday,'' he said.
    Clinton said the U.S. government was providing more than $2 million in food aid and $100,000 worth of tents and plastic sheeting, and he encouraged Americans to give help through international relief charities.
    Referring to reports of thousands of deaths and the destruction of hundreds of thousands of homes caused by the storm, Clinton said, ``It is truly a national calamity.''
    Japan's government said Tuesday it would donate 25,000 dollars to India to aid recovery from a huge cyclone that devastated the eastern Indian state of Orissa.
    Tokyo would make the donation to "a fund to be set up for relief" in India, a foreign ministry official said.
    Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi sent a message to his Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee, saying he was "greatly shocked" by the death and damage wrought by the cyclone last week.
    "I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives," he said in the message, adding that he prayed for a prompt recovery of the injured and rehabilitation of the region.
    Also Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday sent a message of sympathy to India after its devastating cyclone, officials said.
    Musharraf, who seized power here in a bloodless coup on October 12, sent his message to India's Prime Minister Attal Behari Vajpayee through diplomatic channels.
    Some estimates suggest between 5,000 and 10,000 people died when the cyclone hit five days ago in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. Millions were left homeless facing the threat of disease.
    Pakistan's military ruler Musharraf said on Monday he wanted a negotiated settlement to disputes with India, including the thorny issue of Kashmir which has soured relations between the neighbours since their independence.
    Pope John Paul II on Wednesday expressed his deep sympathy and pain for the victims and survivors of a cyclone that has struck the Indian coastal state of Orissa.
    In a message to Indian authorities, two days before his visit to New Delhi, the pope said he felt "deep solidarity with those who were hit by tragedy" and said he expected international aid to reach the area quickly.
    The pope added in his message, handed over by the papal nuncio in India, Lorenzo Baldisseri, that he was praying for the victims and their families.
    "May God give consolation and strength to the homeless and injured," he said.

    Amazing. No one has control over MOTHER NATURE. Orissa is one of the poorest states of India. Too bad a tragedy has to struck the poorest of the poor.

    The worst part is human loss. Whenever a clamity like flood, earthquake, cyclone hits South Asia human loss is unbelievable. It's all because of the population explosion. You never hear such numbers of human loss in Western world. There is no value in our countries for human loss.


      Please forward it to as many folks you know.
      An Appeal for the Orissa Cyclone Victims

      Dear friends,

      There has been widespread devastation in Orissa as a result
      of the worst cylone ever to hit the region. Villages and towns
      have been washed away by tidal waves 12 meters high,
      cities have been submerged under waters from flooded rivers.
      There has been no electricity in the area for the last 72 hours.
      Emergency generators in hospital and relief centers have run out
      of power. All communication links to the cyclone affected area
      have been severed. The death toll is expected to be huge.

      The badly affected regions include Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar, Puri,
      Paradip, Balasore, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada and Khurda.
      We are awaiting news from our near and dear ones in those regions.
      We pray that they are ok.

      Relief work has started but is slow due to the inhospitable
      conditions. The state is in urgent need of funds for dealing
      with this unprecedented devastation. We request you to please
      contribute to the relief fund by mailing a check to the
      address given below. Contributions in any other form will also
      be greatly appreciated.

      Please make the check out to:
      The Chief Minister's Relief Fund, Government of Orissa, India.

      Please mail the check to:

      Bombay Oriya Women's Association,
      11, Suniti,
      General J Bhosle Road,
      Mumbai 400 021

      We greatly appreciate your humanitarian gesture.

      Other addresses
      Please send your *** TAX DEDUCTIBLE *** contributions to:
      (please make the check to "IDRF"; in the memo line, say "Orissa Cyclone

      India Development & Relief Fund
      C/O Mukund Kher
      1704 Clearwater Avenue, #1
      Bloomington, IL 61704

      More info at:


      The Embassy of India in Washington DC gave this address.

      Prime Minister Relief Fund
      Prime Minister's Office
      South Block, New Delhi 110011