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Saudis vow to boost tsunami aid to $30 million

Kingdom also plans telethon to raise funds for victims

• Aid groups: How to help
• Gallery: Stories of survival
• Flash: How tsunamis form
• Special report: After the tsunami
Saudi Arabia
Kofi Annan

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Saudi Arabia, criticized in the Arab world for not offering more money for tsunami disaster relief, said Tuesday it will triple the aid it has pledged to $30 million and will hold a fund-raising telethon to benefit victims.

The Saudi government, which initially pledged $10 million to the relief effort, issued a statement that it is raising its emergency humanitarian aid "in light of the recent assessment of the magnitude of the tragedy."

The government said it would continue to assess the situation. (Donations by country)

The December 26 tsunamis killed more than 150,000 people in at least 11 countries along the Indian Ocean. (Full story)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the world has donated or pledged more than $2 billion for the relief effort.

The U.S. government has pledged $350 million in tsunami aid, the second largest single contribution behind Japan's $500 million.

In addition, the Saudi Press Agency said the country's interior minister would supervise a charity fund-raising campaign on television Thursday.

In some Internet chat rooms, users expressed anger at the reaction among Arab governments and media to the tsunami disaster.

An Arab talk-show host said, "Many Arab viewers have become racist. Unfortunately, the tragedy that befell Asians has no effect on many of them."

Another observer wrote, "This is a chance for Arabs to show their humanity" and prove that they can give generously "regardless of race, ethnicity and religion. Giving just because it is the right thing to do."

Others pointed out that Indonesia, with a death toll of 94,000 in the disaster, is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

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