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All that we can do is pray; YOU CAN HELP THE QUAKE VICTIMS - AND HERE'S HOW.

Byline: ALISON DUCK

THE nerve centre of Coventry's help for the victims of the Gujarat earthquake is SEWA International's base at the Harp Centre in Sandy Lane.

Volunteers are manning the phone lines and reception desk as the city rallies to help the pounds 100,000 appeal launched at the weekend.

Every penny donated will go direct to the relief effort. Money has already been sent by the worldwide relief charity to the western state in India to provide immediate aid such as medicine and fresh water

"In the last 48 hours, we have raised pounds 2 million in the UK alone," said Sanjay Jagatia, secretary of the Coventry branch of SEWA International.

"In Coventry, we had raised more than pounds 3,000 by yesterday morning which is a magnificent response. We are now appealing to everybody - places of work, schools, colleges and community groups - to do whatever they can."

The earthquake is expected to have claimed at least 20,000 lives, but Mr Jagatia fears the death toll could be far higher.

It could not have happened at a worse time. Millions of pilgrims from all over the world, including some from Coventry and Warwickshire, had travelled to Allahabad for the Kumbh Mela religious festival and Friday was the Republic Day of India.

The charity has sent about 20,000 volunteers from around the world, including 600 doctors.

"It has put the country back at least 15 to 20 years in terms of development. Billions of pounds of aid will be required to get back to normality," he said.

"More than 10 million people have been made homeless and are sleeping on the streets. The relief effort is now changing to people who have survived because they are at risk from disease."

The hotline number for pledges is 024 7655 5222. Donations can be made at the appeal base in the Harp Centre, next to Merrick Lodge, in Sandy Lane, from 8am to 8pm, or at HSBC banks quoting number 91482521. The credit card hotline number is 0800 447799.

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HELPLINE: SEWA workers take calls and donations
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 30, 2001
Words:349
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