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Stars raise $US44m for hurricane relief

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A celebrity-packed telethon for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma raised some $US44 million ($NZ60 million), organisers say, after more than 130 stars including George Clooney, Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey and Justin Bieber joined forces to sing, man the phones or appeal for donations.

The hour-long 'Hand in Hand' telethon, which aired across broadcast, cable and digital platforms on Tuesday night, raised more than $US14 million ($NZ19 million) during the live broadcast.

Organisers on Wednesday said that the total rose to $US44 million in pledges made after West Coast and other re-broadcasts.

Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storms on record, ravaged several islands in the northern Caribbean, killing at least 60 people. It barrelled into the Florida Keys on Sunday, where 90 per cent of homes are believed to be destroyed or heavily damaged.

Beyonce, appearing in a taped message, spoke of the urgent need for supplies in her hometown of Houston after Harvey became the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, killing more than 60 people, displacing more than 1 million and damaging some 203,000 homes.

During the show, Stephen Colbert said Apple had donated $US5 million ($NZ7 million) , which the comedian quipped, "is also the price of the new iPhone".

The telethon aired from New York, Nashville and Los Angeles, where Stevie Wonder kicked off the event singing Lean On Me, with a gospel choir as stars such as Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand and Cher clapped along while sitting at their phone stations.

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