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Japan earthquake and tsunami: How to help

Following Japan's worst earthquake on record, Japan has accepted help from 15 countries. Dozens more have offered aid. Here's how you can help.

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Evacuees gather around the candlelight at a blacked out shelter Monday, in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami.

Kyodo News/AP

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A 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan's northeast coast March 11 – one of the largest in recorded history – has created an ongoing humanitarian crisis there.

For those who want to help, the Center for International Disaster Information offers the following advice:

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"Financial contributions provide immediate assistance and allow professional relief organizations to purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster victims. A cash donation helps relief organizations respond in a flexible, timely and cost-efficient manner – ultimately providing greater help to those in need. Cash contributions further enable responders to pay for the transportation necessary to distribute those critical supplies. Unlike in-kind donations such as clothing or canned foods, cash donations require no transportation or storage costs. In addition, cash donations allow relief supplies to be purchased at locations as close to the disaster site as possible."

Where to start: An Associated Press story cautions donors on how to avoid scams when donating. Watch out for emails or unsolicited phone calls. It also Includes a list of US based organizations accepting donations for Japan. The AP story points out that people can make $10 donations via their cell phones: "To donate to the Salvation Army, text 'Japan' or 'Quake' to 80888. Text 'RedCross' to 90999 to donate to its fund set up in response to the disaster."

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