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For immediate release
29 December 2004

Hong Kong (OP) - With the death toll from the incredible earthquake and subsequent tsunamis in Asia now approaching 60,000, the OMHKSEA is preparing to work with the Orthodox Churches in Indonesia and India to offer assistance to some of the millions affected by the tragedy.

There is a significant Orthodox presence on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, including numerous churches, schools, and other philanthropic sites. His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas has been in contact with Indonesian Orthodox clergy and Orthodox brethren in southern India since the time of the disaster and is able to report that none of the faithful have been seriously injured, and very little damage has been done to churches and related buildings. Since most of the affected Orthodox faithful reside in Medan, on the eastern coast of North Sumatra in Indonesia, there was concern that the powerful earthquake could have caused serious damage.

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has contacted His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas, expressing his paternal love and sympathy for those who are suffering from this terrible calamity. His All Holiness stated that "he and the Mother Church are praying for relief from this catastrophe."

The earthquake, which was centered off the western coast of North Sumatra, was the most powerful earthquake in the world in the last 40 years, registering 8.9 on the Richter scale. Orthodox faithful in Bangkok and in southern India, both thousands of kilometers from the epicenter, reported feeling the shaking early on Sunday morning. While the earthquake caused significant damage to the infrastructure in nearby Aceh, North Sumatra, those results were dwarfed by the damage to occur merely hours later. Massive tsunamis, or tidal waves, ravaged across the Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and greater Indian Ocean, causing death and destruction in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and as far west as Somalia. Anyone working, living, or vacationing by the coast in the affected areas was washed out to sea or sent running for his or her life. Over a third of the victims found so far have been children, as they stood the least chance of surviving in rushing water.

Though not directly affected by this disaster, the OMHKSEA has chosen to act as an intermediary between those who have suffered great losses and those who would like to help them recover. At the request of His Eminence Metropolitan Nikitas, the OP is setting up the "Orthodox Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund". We will collect donations on behalf of the millions of Orthodox Christians around the world who have heard about this immense tragedy, and forward those donations, in their entirety, to local organizations on the ground. Though we seek to support relief efforts in any affected areas, we have a particular concern for those in Indonesia and India, where we already have infrastructure and partnerships.

To make a donation, please make out a check to: "Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia" and send it to our main office (address in header above). On the memo line of the check or elsewhere, please mention "Earthquake and Tsunami Fund" so that your contribution can be allocated appropriately. All contributions will be receipted by the OMHKSEA. Alternative methods of donating exist and you are urged to contact the OMHKSEA for details.

The OP currently coordinates projects and partnerships in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand. For more information on this relief effort or our other project sites in the region, please contact OP headquarters via phone at + 852 2573 8328 or email at


For media inquiries, please contact OP Director Christopher Ebe via phone at +852 2573 8328 or email at