The Milan daily newspaper Corriere della Sera said Italians could contribute one euro to tsunami disaster relief every time they send a text message to a special number, thanks to a scheme sponsored by the country's four mobile phone companies and its main television channels.

Donations through text messaging seemed to be becoming a worldwide trend and organisers of Germany's biggest New Year's Eve party, to be held at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Friday, said party-goers could make donations to the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) by sending a text message to a special number.

Every message featuring the word Unicef sent to the number will raise 2.65 euros for emergency relief. Up to a million people are expected to attend the event.

Rallying help

Portugal's biggest mobile phone company, TMN, said it had opened a special line for its five million subscribers to contribute one euro per text message throughout January and donate the money to the Red Cross or other charities serving the Asian victims.

Sunday's tsunami has killed more
than 120,000 people in Asia

State-run France Telecom said it would launch a similar service on Monday for the benefit of the Red Cross and French charities and keep it going until the end of January.
  
Singapore's three telecom firms said they would launch SMS-based services on Saturday, New Year's Day, for mobile subscribers to contribute up to 50 Singapore dollars by sending a text message to a specified number.
  
The largest company, SingTel, said in a statement that it would also open a hotline for donations. 

Nokia donation

In Helsinki, the world's largest mobile phone-maker, Nokia, said it had contributed to emergency relief in the tsunami-stricken areas, but would not confirm a report by the Red Cross that it had given 300,000 euros from its operations in Finland.
  
Italian newspapers also rushed to help. Corriere della Sera said it had already received 1.3 million euros in donations to a special bank account set up with TG5, the television news programme which is part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's private media group Mediaset.