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Relief effort continues as Australians across the country support those in need

Wednesday February 11, 2009

As the devastating effects of the Victorian bushfires become clearer, relief workers are continuing to assist those affected on a massive scale.

And the response from the public has been described as both staggering and uplifting by Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner.

'The Victorian Bushfires appeal fund rose to over $44.5 million dollars as at 4:30pm today' he said.

'It is truly an amazing response from the Australian people,' continued Mr Tickner. 'We have heard reports of people affected by the floods in Northern Queensland donating their assistance money directly to help those devastated by the fires in Victoria.'

'This is what it is all about. The power of humanity -- people coming together to help other people. Not everyone can be on the frontline as a fire fighter or a first aid worker, but everyone can make a difference by contributing to the appeal.'

'We ask anyone who is having difficulty getting through to the toll free donation line (1800 811 700) or donating online (, to be patient. We have seen an unprecedented demand with thousands of people constantly trying to get through, but please keep trying.'

'The website is the faster option, and if at all possible, we urge people to use that in the first instance.'

Red Cross has now registered nearly 9,000 people at relief centres across the state- almost 2,000 in the past 24 hours. Volunteers at the State Inquiry Centre have responded to almost 14,000 calls from people looking for loved ones- an increase of nearly 4,000 from yesterday.

People should ring 1800 727 077 or email only if they are unable to contact someone in the affected areas. For enquiries from overseas only, the number is +61 8 9225 8880.

Please do not use these lines to offer assistance or donations. It is vitally important that the State Inquiry Centre lines are kept free for registrations and enquiries.

Given the nature of the emergency, Red Cross asks that people contacting the State Inquiry Centre also remain patient.

For information on fires in Victoria and general fire safety advice, call 1800 240 667.