The National Association of Realtors has created a special project to aid the victims of the massive tsunami that ravaged Southeast Asian countries in December.

The tsunami, caused by a tremendously powerful earthquake below the Indian Ocean, has killed at least 150,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands, and left many people homeless. The death toll could rise, as there is still a long list of missing people, according to United Nations emergency relief administrators.

“I have been overwhelmed by the news of the loss of life and devastation suffered by the victims of the terrible natural disaster in Southeast Asia,” said Al Mansell, association president, in a letter to Realtors. Association officials are working with international partners in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to identify the best means to deliver relief to those in greatest need, Mansell said. He said the association is also looking for ways to help members of the international Realtor family who have been affected by this tragedy.

The association has contributed $50,000 to start up the project, and Mansell is urging Realtors to contribute to the project. All administrative costs of the project will be absorbed by the association, and all of the donations will go directly to aid the victims, the association announced today. Contributions are tax deductible.

Contributions can be made online through a secure association Web site: https://www.realtor.org/RelFundTrack.nsf/Contribution?OpenForm.

To make contributions by mail, checks should be made payable to the “Realtor Tsunami Relief Project” and sent to: Realtor Tsunami Relief Project, Attn: NAR Finance Division, 430 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

Ben Abels, 33, a Realtor for Prairie Shore Properties in Evanston, Ill., who was vacationing in Thailand when the tsunami hit, has been missing since the disaster. Abels’ brother, David Abels, arrived in Thailand on Tuesday, according to media reports, with hopes of finding out what happened to him.

The family has set up a Web site, http://www.benabels.com/ with information about David’s trip to Thailand. The Web site also contains information about a relief fund set up in Abels’ name. Donations can be made to: Tsunami Relief Fund, In honor of Ben Abels, First Bank and Trust, 820 Church St., Evanston, IL 60201.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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