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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 30) – The Fiji Times national appeal for tsunami victims in Asia raised more than $11,000 (US$6,633) in the first day of collection.

A total of $11,119.43 was raised which included cash, checks and pledges from individuals and organizations.

The confirmed death toll when this edition went to press last night was 68,500.

Deposits to The Fiji Times Tsunami Appeal with the ANZ Bank totaled $4749.43 at the close of business yesterday.

Cash collected at Fiji Times Limited offices was $114 in Suva and $5 in Lautoka.

The appeal started with a $5,000 donation from Fiji Times Limited.

Businessman and Fiji Times Limited board member Mahendra Motibhai Patel, who is in India, pledged $1,000 while the Fiji Retailers Association pledged $251.

Donations can be made at any ANZ Bank branch to The Fiji Times Tsunami Appeal account number 7853418.

Cash donations can also be made at Fiji Times Limited offices in Suva and Lautoka during business hours.

An earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale jolted Indonesia on Sunday morning and triggered a surge of powerful waves across the Indian Ocean.

The waves smashed into coastal areas in India, the Maldives, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Somalia.

Citizens of countries that were ravaged by the tidal waves working in Fiji said their families were safe.

Satya Narayan, who worked for New World Supermarket in Labasa, said his family lived at St Thomas Mount, a district in Chennai, which was 30 kilometers from the Indian coastline.

"I called them the day we heard about the disaster and they said they were all fine. I was worried about a relative in Sri Lanka but she's fine also."

Fiji Electricity Authority chief financial officer Sunil De Silva said his family lived near the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, and were not affected.

Labasa magistrate Ramachandra Rudranathan, also from Sri Lanka, said his family and relatives lived away from the affected areas and were not affected.

Fiji's High Commissioner to India Luke Rokovada said Indian authorities had no records so far of any Fiji citizen being affected by the tsunami.

Mr Patel, who is in Bombay, said one third of the dead were children.

December 30, 2004

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