The Methodist Relief and Development Fund has launched an appealto aid the victims of the earthquake that struck Asia and has sofar caused about 22,000 deaths. Anyone wishing to contribute to theappeal should send a cheque payable to MRDF to 25 Marylebone Road,London, NW1 5JR, with a covering note saying that it is for theAsian earthquake fund.

Kevin Fray, MRDF Supporter Relations Co-ordinator , said "many ofus were shocked to see the scenes of destruction after theearthquake and waves struck across a wide part of the Asia Pacificregion. MRDF will send the funds raised to the local reliefagencies who need it most. We will as usual work closely with ACTto ensure that donations go quickly and effectively to those whoare suffering."

MRDF partner Action by Churches Together (ACT) has already startedaiding efforts by ecumenical church groups to provide food, shelterand medical supplies to the affected areas. In Sri Lanka, wheremore than 5,800 people are said to have died, the National Councilof Churches in Sri Lanka (NCCSL) reports that two truckloads ofessential food items and water will leave today for Muttur inTrincomalee and the other to Thirukovil in Batticaloa, two of theworst hit areas.

In India, ACT member Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA)reports that 12 teams have been deployed, both assisting andassessing needs of people in the coastal areas. Four strategicoperational points are being set up: two in Tamil Nadu at Trichyand Drinamvenny, one in Andhra Pradesh, and another one in Keralato assist some 50,000 families. The official death toll in India sofar is more than 4,000 people. CASA however reports that thechurches in the coastal regions are reporting more deaths as newstrickles in from smaller and more remote villages and areas.

In Indonesia , where more than 4,400 people are believed to havedied, ACT members Yayasan Tanggul Benkana (YTB), Yakkum EmergencyUnit/CD Bethesda (YEU) and Church World Service (CWS) areco-ordinating their response to the emergency. CWS will conduct arapid assessment mission to Aceh this week, working with a teamfrom YEU. YTB reports that figures received from Aceh province putsthose displaced at some 150,000 people. YEU will also be sending anassessment team to North Sumatra. 
Note: More information on ACT and its work in this and other areasis available at http://act-intl.org/act_main_title.html