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Last updated: 10 January, 2011 - Published 13:34 GMT
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Lanka donates tea to flood-hit Australia

With no respite for the victims of floods in north-eastern Australia, the Sri Lankan government has sent an aid donation to people suffering there.

It consists of Sri Lanka’s most famous export – tea.

The Indian Ocean island nation is itself suffering from flooding on a very large scale at the moment; several people have died.

The Sri Lankan foreign secretary, Romesh Jayasinghe, said this donation of local tea was to thank Australians for having helped this country, for instance after the 2004 tsunami and also in its current demining efforts.

The tea donation is a joint venture between Dilmah, a major Sri Lankan tea company, and the Colombo government on behalf of its people.

The consignment is enough to make a quarter of a million cups and will be supplied direct to Queensland state from company warehouses within Australia.

Australia’s acting high commissioner here, Sophia McIntyre, said the drink would be included in food parcels for affected people.

She said a cup of tea was exactly what many victims wanted when they reached evacuation centres, and the gesture was much appreciated.

Here, at least nine Sri Lankans have been killed in floods and landslides in the east and centre of the country.

The authorities say 800,000 people have been affected and 70,000 are sheltering in camps.

In some areas air force helicopters have been dropping dry rations to displaced people.

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