Wireless Association To Organize Relief Effort For South Asia Disaster

Dec 29, 2004 (09:12 AM EST)

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MANHASSET, N.Y. — In response to the devastating earthquake and corresponding tsunamis in South Asia, the Wireless Communications Association International (WCA) announced organizational efforts within the wireless broadband industry leading to a Jan. 13, 2005 meeting during the group's annual International Symposium and Business Expo in San Jose, Calif.

The Jan. 13 meeting will foster industry efforts on immediate disaster relief, both monetary and in vitally needed equipment for First Responders. Short-term, industry leaders will organize a task force to raise money and to coordinate equipment donations for effective emergency deployment.

Long-term, the task force will plan longer-term infrastructure advisory services for the region, building upon ongoing work within WCA's Wireless Broadband Public Safety Task Force. It convenes bi-weekly conference calls, and is preparing a Best Practices guide helping First Responders increase their capabilities for challenges ranging from emergency warnings to critical post-event communications.

"The Embassy of Sri Lanka looks forward to working with WCA and its member companies on this critical initiative, which will support relief efforts and have a long-term impact on rehabilitation of the areas devastated by this natural disaster," said Devinda Subasinghe, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the United States, in a statement. "The government of Sri Lanka will be examining the capabilities of wireless companies, both with gratitude and with understanding of our long-term infrastructure needs."

With a growing regional death toll now estimated to exceed 80,000, the 9.0 earthquake originating offshore near Sumatra in Indonesia created powerful tsunamis that devastated also shorefront areas of Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives, and as far away as Africa's East Coast.

The island nation of Sri Lanka is one of the worst-afflicted countries, with over 23,000 killed and 1.5 million left homeless. More than 45,000 so far are reported dead in Indonesia.