Diverse groups join in quake relief

BURBANK ? When disaster strikes, a diverse local humanitarian community often converges to provide large-scale relief to distressed countries in times of crisis.

Saturday was no different, as the Burbank-based Islamic Relief Center teamed up with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to deliver more than 200 tons of emergency supplies to Indonesia after a massive earthquake ravaged the island of Java.

"We've found it's a great working relationship, using Mormon resources and the Muslim organization's ability to do such a great job of distributing [relief supplies] in these countries," said Garry Flake, director of humanitarian emergency response for the Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon, church.

The two organizations have coordinated emergency outreach efforts to Sudan, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia and recently in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, said Mostafa Mahboob, the media and public relations representative for the Islamic Relief Center.

The shipment bound for Jakarta left the Salt Lake City Airport on Tuesday, carrying first- aid and medical supplies, such as blankets, clean water, food hygiene kits, crutches and wheel chairs, Mahboob said. The Mormon church provided the materials while Islamic Relief funded transportation costs and will conduct the distribution of emergency supplies in Java, Mahboob said.

Islamic Relief already had offices on the ground in Indonesia in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, enabling a swifter response to the most recent crisis, Mahboob said.

"Our team was able to respond immediately and take relief supplies to the victims of the earthquake," he said.

More than 5,500 people died in the 6.2-magnitude earthquake and thousands were left injured and homeless, Mahboob said. The earthquake also knocked out power and cut running water in the city, he said.

But the reopening of a previously incapacitated runway in Java on Tuesday will allow a swifter response to survivors, Mahboob said.

"That should hopefully speed up the arrival of relief supplies to that area," Mahboob said.

Islamic Relief offers assistance to people worldwide, regardless of their background or religion, Mahboob said. The organization joined with the Mormon church with the shared goal of providing crucial services to areas in need.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution can contact Islamic Relief at (888) 479-4968 or at www.irw.org.

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