Telstra to aid tsunami victims

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Telstra has offered help to its customers – including aid agencies -- in the nations worst affected by the devastating tsunami that struck South-East Asia on 26 December.

Telstra has offered help to its customers – including aid agencies -- in the nations worst affected by the devastating tsunami that struck South-East Asia on 26 December.

The telecommunications giant said in a statement that it would provide assistance to its customers here and in countries hit by Sunday’s tsunami, caused by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra that measured 9 on the Richter scale.

At least 59,000 people are believed dead as a result of the quake and the series of giant waves that wiped out coastlines and islands on the Indian Ocean. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia were worst affected.

Uncounted thousands of people – including foreign tourists – are still missing while more than a million have been made homeless by the tsunami, which was the biggest recorded for 40 years.

“On behalf of all Telstra staff, I extend our deepest sympathies to the victims of this disaster and their families,” said Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski.

Telstra would refund all Telstra-related fixed, mobile and internet telecommunications costs between Australia and the affected countries for a month for Australian non-government, not-for-profit organisations giving on-the-ground support in those countries, the company said.

Also, Telstra customers travelling in affected countries would get refunded the cost of calls to relatives in Australia made using a Telstra mobile phone from midday Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time (AEDT) 26 December until midnight 30 December, Telstra said.

Telstra customers in Australia using fixed or mobile phones to check on the wellbeing of immediate family members in the affected areas would also get a refund, the company said.

The company would also donate $100,000 to Australia-based aid agencies participating in the relief effort, Telstra said.

Telstra is just one Australian organisation that has already rushed to aid the victims of Sunday’s tsunami.

NSW Police said that it would send four forensic officers to help a Federal Government Disaster Victim Identification team assist local authorities in Thailand.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and NSW Health are two other government agencies that will help the overall relief effort.

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