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Saudi telethon raises $77 million

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Saudi telethon brings in cash for tsunami victims by promising "paradise."

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(CNN) -- A telethon for tsunami victims on Saudi state-run television has raised more than $77 million, and the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank pledged an additional $500 million for affected countries.

The telethon followed criticism that Saudi Arabia had not done enough to help in the tsunami relief efforts.

Among those who contributed in the telethon were King Fahd who donated $5 million; Crown Prince Abdullah, $2.5 million; and Prince Sultan, $1.25 million.

The biggest single donation came from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who gave $17 million.

Earlier this week, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia tripled its initial pledge to the tsunami efforts from $10 million to $30 million, saying it was doing so "in light of the recent assessment of the magnitude of the tragedy."

The $500 million donation by the Islamic Development Bank matches the largest donation to date from an international financial institution. The World Bank also has pledged $500 million.

The kingdom said all of its aid efforts will be coordinated through U.N. agencies.

"Saudi Arabia will continue to assess the situation and calls upon the international community to step up efforts and to enhance coordination with the United Nations to deliver timely assistance to all those devastated by the tsunami," the kingdom said in a written statement.

The $77 million raised in Thursday's telethon falls short of the $155 million raised by a 2002 telethon on Saudi television to help the families of Palestinian "martyrs."

That event was held after the Israeli army launched a massive offensive in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin to go after Islamic militants following a suicide bombing that killed 29 Israelis.

Palestinians claimed a massacre had taken place in Jenin, but a subsequent investigation by the United Nations found no evidence of a massacre and said its investigators could only confirm 52 Palestinians were killed there, many of them militants who hid among civilians in the crowded camp in violation of international law.

Saudi Arabia has long maintained that none of the money raised in that telethon went to the families of suicide bombers. Alwaleed gave $27 million in cash during that event.

The prince also stoked controversy after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States.

He donated $10 million for disaster relief to New York -- a donation that then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani rejected after Alwaleed suggested U.S. policies in the Middle East contributed to the attacks.

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