Help On The Way

PAULA BRONSTEIN/GETTY IMAGES

AID FROM ABOVE: Members of the British navy assist one of their helicopters to pick up supplies in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

At the Paris headquarters of cementmaker Lafarge Group on Dec. 26, the devastation ran deep. The firm had a plant in Lho Nga, Indonesia, 25 km west of Banda Aceh, perilously close to the earthquake's epicenter off Sumatra. A killer wave destroyed the plant's 35 buildings as well as a seaside complex that housed 100 local employees and their families. As of last week, Lafarge had accounted for only 294 of its 625 workers based at the plant.

The company responded quickly. A day after the disaster, a Lafarge team based in Indonesia flew search, rescue and medical...

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