Tsunami aid breaks record

An unprecedented response to a two-day broadcasting marathon by Greek radio and television stations raised over 17 million euros for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami waves, as donations continued to pour in yesterday. «A humanitarian and cultured Greece has once again made a dynamic appearance,» said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday, when it was clear that the total collected by the telethon would surpass any other aid collection in Greek history. It was extended by an extra day – to Wednesday night – after a massive response from the general public and private firms which included donations by text message, bank deposits and telephone pledges. Organizers said special bank accounts would be able to receive donations until Monday. A further 873,000 euros was raised through an auction on Wednesday of personal items donated by celebrities from the worlds of politics, sports and entertainment. A pen owned by President Costis Stephanopoulos fetched 200,000 euros, signed shirts and balls from the Panathinaikos and Olympiakos soccer teams brought in 100,000 euros each and a collection of objects donated by Greek Olympians raised 85,000 euros. As so many items were donated, state-run television channel NET said it would hold a second auction but did not specify when. The Foreign Ministry said that both humanitarian and financial aid from the Greek State would surpass 4 million euros. The ministry added that it had chartered a cruise liner to leave for Sri Lanka on January 17, carrying 800 tons of aid and to serve as a floating hospital.

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