Millions of pounds in cash and resources promised by construction companies in aftermath of Asian disaster

The UK construction industry this week pledged millions of pounds in money and resources to help the Asian tsunami relief effort, with staff from some companies working to assess the damage.

Engineers from the Asian offices of structural engineer Arup are in the regions hit by last week’s disaster, investigating structural damage and aiding the relief effort. Other British companies, including contractor Carillion, engineer Halcrow and QSs EC Harris and Mott MacDonald, have promised to give their assistance.

The agency RedR, which provides engineering expertise after such disasters, is working with the International Health Exchange to provide technical help. It has called for assistance from British firms.

The organisation has alerted several hundred specialists; some have gone Sri Lanka and others will soon be leaving for Aceh in Indonesia.

Bobby Lambert, chief executive of RedR-International Health Exchange, said: “This huge disaster requires, and is getting, a massive response, which is great to see. We are keen to hear from specialists with relevant skills and experience in the region.”

British firms are also independently providing aid. Lend Lease has already guaranteed £200,000 in aid. Arup staff from Hong Kong and Malaysia are in the region, and staff from its London offices are expected to join at the weekend. A spokesperson said: “Arup workers are engaged in the immediate relief operation, and are investigating structural damage to affected buildings.”

He added: “We have had a number of staff volunteering their skills to recovery agencies such as RedR, so the chairman has doubled his commitment to sending employees out. We are strongly encouraging people to get involved, and are looking at how we can help long term with skills and resources.”

Contractor Carillion has pledged to assist the relief effort by making resources available to the aid agencies. A spokesperson said:

“Asia is not an area we usually focus on, but we have offered our services to the region voluntarily through Disasters Emergency Committee [which co-ordinates the relief effort].”

Engineer Halcrow is sending staff to determine how it can help with the repair work. It is liaising with the UK’s Department for International Development and regional governments.

Other firms, including Balfour Beatty, are holding meetings to determine what aid they can give.

A Construction Confederation spokesperson said a number of firms were considering how to help.

He said: “We are aware that some companies are looking at what their response could be but their contacts have only just got back from the region and the firms are yet to hold meetings. There are a number of major contractors considering the options available.”

Both Halcrow and Arup are among companies offering financial aid to the region, donated via official funds set up by agencies. JCB has pledged $1m (£530,000) of funds and plant. There is no co-ordinated fund for the industry, but the Construction Confederation has urged companies to come forward with donations.

A spokesperson said: “We will leave it to individual companies to determine what their response can be, depending on the nature of their resources and skills.”

Steve Campbell, European head of global structural engineer Sinclair Knight Merz, said it would support any staff that wanted to help out.