Hambantota (Sri Lanka): Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralidharan has called for greater support for the island's fishermen after visiting the south coast with teammates to hand out aid to tsunami victims.
Muralidharan, a UN ambassador for the World Food Programme, said he was 'deeply shocked' after visiting Hambantota, a fishing town where locals say up to 15,000 people are dead or missing.
The densely populated beachfront centre of the town and a local market, packed with around 4,000 traders and shoppers, was decimated by giant waves early on Boxing Day.
'I have now seen so many towns and villages along the east and south coasts, many of which were hit extremely badly, but I'm deeply shocked by what I have seen here ' this town is probably the worst affected,' Muralidharan told reporters.
Fishermen, living in temporary plastic tents on the rubble of their homes, told him that only about five of the town's 400 fishing trawlers were seaworthy while most of their traditional sea canoes had also been destroyed.
'We need to help them,' he added. 'They have lost parents, wives, children and the pain they are going through is terrible. The main thing in this town was fishing and now they have nothing. They need help to rebuild their livelihoods and become self-sufficient once more.'
Muralidharan, accompanied by Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Nuwan Zoysa and Avishka Gunawardene, visited 10 emergency relief camps during a two-day tour around Galle, Matara, Tangalle and Hanbantota.
The cricketers helped distribute five lorries of food, medicine, clothing, eating utensils and toys. The aid convoy was the third organised by Muralidharan.
While in Habantota they met the captain of the town's cricket club, Shihan Singwansa, who told how his mother, brother and seven of his teammates had been killed.