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Sri Lankan brewer responds to tsunami disaster

A Sri Lankan brewery has temporarily given up making beer and switched to bottling water to help survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami, the relief group Oxfam International reported on Thursday, December 30.

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The Lion Brewery plant in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, had thus far produced 120ꯠ glass bottles of water for shipment to the affected areas, with Oxfam’s help. That’s after flushing the systems to remove beer residue.

“With so much loss of life, how could you not help?” brewery manager Nausha Raheem asked. “Once we got over the initial shock and realized the gravity of the situation, we decided to do what we could to help. It has been a bit of a logistical effort and has involved all of our staff, but it is desperately needed,” she said in Oxfam’s report.

The conversion to water bottling took place on the day after the tsunami smashed into the Sri Lankan coastline. Oxfam will help distribute the clean water bottles and then recover them from central points to return them to the brewery for refilling. After an initial production using amber bottles, it was reported in very early January that the brewer switched to clear glass bottles and eliminated the beer labels to avoid confusion.

Oxfam country representative Phil Esmonde commented: “Clean water is the greatest need in the disaster-hit areas. Without it the risk of disease becomes acute. Oxfam is providing water tanks, however in some areas we can’t get equipment in because bridges have been destroyed. In those areas bottled water is particularly useful to ensure people have a clean water supply. The Lion Brewery’s efforts are just one example of how local people and businesses are pulling together to respond to this crisis.”

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