Channel One Raises $13.5M for Flooded Far East

Russian state television station Channel One on Sunday raised more than 440 million rubles ($13.5 million) during a 10-hour telethon to help rebuild the country's flood-hit Far East, the channel said.

With filming in Moscow's Gorky Park, the telethon included a six-hour concert featuring popular musical acts as well as special appearances by actors and other celebrities. Viewers were asked to send donations via 50-ruble text messages as well as online payment services such as PayPal.

The station said $2.5 million raised from advertising throughout the day would be included in the contribution. The money will be used to build new homes for affected residents, the channel said. Flash flooding that meteorologists say is the worst in 120 years has been devastating vast regions of Russia's Far East since July. More than 100,000 people have been affected and tens of thousands evacuated.

"So far we have raised 446 million rubles," Channel One general director Konstantin Ernst told RIA Novosti on Sunday, adding that the figure would be confirmed the next day.

"Within a few days we will agree on a contract with companies that, using the funds we have gathered, will buy or rebuild homes for those who have suffered [from the floods]," Ernst said, adding that Channel One would oversee the work and regularly report about the progress being made.

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