Wednesday’s death toll rose above 60,000 from Sunday’s earthquake and flooding in South Asia, with thousands still missing. The U.N. said disease could double that number.

Baptist relief agencies continued to collect and distribute funds for victims.

Baptist World Aid Australia sent $25,000 committed by Baptist World Aid to LEADS in Sri Lanka, an indigenous Christian agency that works with Australian Baptists.

LEADS began intervention almost immediately, according to an on-line report. Emergency feeding has begun in Trincomalee on the northeast coast.  Immediate needs are food, clothing, drinking water, blankets and temporary shelter. Required medicines are painkillers and antibiotics.

The agency hoped to raise $300,000 in the United States to provide first-phase relief to 10,000 families.

BWAid Australia earlier committed $5,000 to a medical and relief team from Hungarian Baptist Aid, which left Dec. 27 for Sri Lanka with $110,000 worth of medical supplies. Much more will be needed.

BWAid Director Paul Montacutereported that his agency allocated an initial $25,000 for relief in affected countries, working with local indigenous leaders.

The British Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) has approved an initial $50,000 grant to provide food, drinking water and medical supplies for 5,000 families in Sri Lanka. BMS awaited reports from partners in Indonesia, particularly on the hard-hit island of Sumatra.

David Kerrigan, BMS director of mission, said he hoped British Baptist churches would take up special offering for emergency aid in South Asia. “This is about as big as it gets,” he said in a news release.

Montacute said he began contacting Baptist leaders in affected areas as soon as news of the disaster broke on Sunday. Montacute issued an urgent appeal for relief funds and pledged prayer support from Baptists around the world.

Montacute is circulating a bulletin insert with information about how to contribute to BWAid’s Asian Tidal Wave Appeal. Click here to request a copy of the PDF file by e-mail.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship authorized each “field unit” in hard-hit areas to spend up to $5,000 in emergency relief. CBF Global Missions leaders are working to coordinate continuing response through Baptist World Aid, according to a Tuesday news release.

CBF personnel were reported safe, though several families were displaced and threatened by flood waters.

“We have been in touch with our personnel in Asia and are grateful that all are safe,” said Jack Snell, CBF Global Missions associate coordinator for missions teams in Asia. “But we grieve with those who suffered the consequences of the devastating earthquake and the ensuing massive tsunamis. As is often true, the brunt of the tragedy was born by those who are poor and powerless and who have the fewest resources to respond to their loss.”

Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., expressed “profound concern for victims of this monumental human tragedy” and called on church members to pray for families that have been and will be devastated by it.

Medley predicted “extensive and long-term emergency relief efforts” by American Baptists’ One Great Hour of Sharing fund.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

Click here to see how you can give to Baptist World Aid. Please designated donations to “Asian Tidal Wave Appeal.”

Click here for information on how to contribute to tsunami relief through BMS World Mission

Click here for information on how to contribute to tsunami relief through American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.

Click here for information on how to contribute to tsunami relief through Australia Baptist World Aid.

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