NEWS

Tsunami aid increasing

As the first military cargo plane which carried Greek aid to the tsunami disaster zone in southern Asia arrived back in the country yesterday, government officials said that Greece had contributed almost 1 million euros to the relief effort and was set to increase its share further. The C-130 air force transport plane, one of two dispatched by the Greek government, touched down at Elefsina airport having helped distribute 12 tons of aid in the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangkok. It also carried doctors, rescue personnel and diplomats to the area with the dual aim of tracking down missing Greeks and contributing to the international aid operation. The Foreign Ministry said that Greece’s contribution to the humanitarian effort in the countries affected by the Indian Ocean tidal waves was approaching the 1-million-euro mark, including the cost of services offered as well as financial aid. The government has pledged 150,000 euros each to the Maldives and Sri Lanka and a second C-130 with 25 fully equipped fire brigade rescuers is currently in the Thai resort of Phuket. According to the ministry’s statement, Greece was the first country to dispatch a civilian airliner to Phuket to bring its nationals back home. Seven Greeks are still among at least 9,000 foreigners missing in the region following the Boxing Day disaster. No Greeks have been reported among the more than 144,000 dead. Two diplomats who were members of the mission which arrived back yesterday have stayed on in Sri Lanka and the Maldives respectively to offer help to Greek tourists in the area. Meanwhile, various Greek TV and radio stations are due to take part in a broadcasting marathon today to help raise more money for victims of the tsunami.