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“It’s really phenomenal,” said Nihal Goonawardene, 59, the association’s president. “It comes from local peopleand friends across the country.”

Rizwan Mowlana, who has at least 30 relatives missing in Sri Lanka, said he has been overwhelmed by the response to the donation fund he set up on Monday. His Gaithersburg home has been inundated with donations of clothes, blankets, bicycles and toys.

“It will take three weeks to get there if we’re lucky,” said Mr. Mowlana, 49, who heads up the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Maryland and Virginia. “The best thing to do at this time is [to send] cash donations because it is quickest to reach them.”

Lutheran World Relief in Baltimore so far has received about $50,000.

An official at the Buddhist Vihara Society in Northwest said a steady stream of donors has called — including somebody from as far away as Hawaii.

Embassies of the devastated countries set up relief funds yesterday, too. The Royal Thai Embassy opened a bank account for people in the Thai community who wish to donate money.

“We have about 100 Thai associations and more than 100 Buddhist temples that will be informed that they can send money to the embassy or transfer money to the embassy account,” said Kasit Piromya, 60, ambassador of Thailand to the United States.

“We have a lot of needs,” he said. “This is best way to meet them at the moment.”