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Cypriot doctors: Situation much worse in SE Asia
2004-12-31 10:11:15

Nicosia, Dec 31 (CNA) -- Cypriot doctors who are in Sri Lanka as part of the Doctors of the World, have said that the situation in south-east Asia following the tsunami that was triggered on Sunday by an underwater earthquake of a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is much worse than anticipated and called for more drugs to help the victims.

In another development, all municipalities on the island have cancelled their New Year's celebrations scheduled for this evening and are instead channeling all money that was to be spent, to humanitarian aid.

A second Doctors of the World mission is preparing to leave for the tsunami hit area of Galle on Sunday afternoon. Two more missions are due to leave for Sri Lanka on January 9 and 13.

Vice President of the Cyprus Branch of the Doctors of the World, Maria Shakali told CNA that the Cypriot team currently in Sri Lanka (Doctor Yiannis Taliotis, nurse Lenia Lambrou and biologist, epidemiologist and genetist Matheos Demetriades) briefed her on the tragic situation there.

Shakali said that the situation in the stricken areas is much worse than reported by the media, and added that the Cyprus team of doctors has already started work.

She said that there is immediate need for anti-diarrhea drugs and cortisone and called upon the people of Cyprus to financially support the Doctors of the World to obtain as many essential drugs as possible.

The Cyprus doctors carry with them 150 kilos of cholera, tetanus, hepatitis and yellow fever vaccines to inoculate the more susceptible groups of people in the area of Galle which has been worst hit. They also carry antibiotics, antipyretics, analgesics and anti-diarrhea drugs.

Meanwhile Cyprus municipalities cancelled tonight's events for the New Year's Eve, as a gesture of respect for the victims of the Asian disaster. They also decided to donate the funds they would have been spent for the events to the humanitarian aid in the disaster - hit areas.

Nicosia Municipality has called on all citizens to participate instead in a late night candlelit ceremony in memory of the victims. The vigil will take place at the capital's Eleftheria Square.

Moreover the Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ) responded to the call of the International Federation of Journalists and made a donation to the Special Solidarity Fund for the relief of the victims in Asia.

The UCJ has also started a fund raising campaign in all journalists' work places and called upon its members to contribute to efforts to alleviate the suffering of the victims.

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