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International Community to Aid Nations Hit By Quake, Tsunami

Governments around the world, as well as non-profit organizations, are pledging support for victims of Sunday's massive earthquake and resulting tsunamis that have affected more than a million people across the Bay of Bengal and in Indian Ocean coastal communities. Some relief and personnel are already on their way.

Japan was one of the first countries to respond to appeals for international aid.

The government Monday morning dispatched a disaster relief team of 21 doctors and nurses to Sri Lanka. Leading the team is Hiroyuki Yokota, a professor at the Nippon Medical School's emergency care department.

Dr. Yokota says the team wants to do all it can to treat the injured and thus it is important to get there as quickly as possible.

The Japan Red Cross Society says it will provide about $1 million to areas hit by the quake and tsunamis. It has an emergency response unit standing by to help establish temporary hospitals and to provide medical aid.

In Geneva, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for more than $6 million for "immediate support" targeted at some 500,000 survivors with immediate needs.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India - itself dealing with tsunami casualties - says he has written to the leaders of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives, offering official assistance.

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told Australian Broadcasting Corporation Monday Canberra is providing more than $7 million in emergency funds. "The government is prepared to make an initial contribution to assist with relief effort. We might have to provide more than that as time goes on," he said. "Also we have some capacity to deliver fresh water, bottled water, tarpaulins and those kinds of things to assist people."

The European Commission says it is in close contact with its staff in the region and with organizations, such as the Red Cross, to assess where aid will be most needed. The 25-nation bloc is making an immediate pledge of more than $3 million in cash aid.

Tens of thousands of Europeans, Australians and Japanese were reported to be on vacation on the beaches of Thailand, Sri Lanka and other countries when the massive waves hit Sunday.

A White House spokesman says the United States will provide appropriate aid and says some relief is already on its way to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. U.S. officials say they will provide further assistance in cooperation with other countries and international organizations, including the United Nations.

The international organization, Doctors Without Borders, is sending 32 tons of medical and sanitation supplies by plane to Indonesia's Sumatra Island, the area closest to the quake's epicenter.