Star-studded US telethon raises $15m for hurricane relief

A star-studded telethon has raised more than $15 million for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma relief.

Lupita Nyong'o pictured with  Bruce Willis at the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief event. Picture: @Lupita_Nyongo

LOS ANGELES - George Clooney, Justin Bieber, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Lupita Nyong'o, and Oprah Winfrey were among the stars who turned out for a US telethon which has so far raised more than $15 million for hurricane relief.

They appeared in the one-hour Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief event, which was broadcast on the major US TV networks from New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and San Antonio.

Stevie Wonder opened the telethon with a performance of his hit _Lean on Me _and several stars told emotional stories about those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which have destroyed parts of the US and the Caribbean.

Clooney and Roberts recalled one true tale about a guy who kept up his sons' spirits by playing the piano while the storm was hitting.

Beyonce - who was born in Houston, one of the areas hit hard by Harvey - pleaded with people to stick together in the wake of the horrific events.

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

In a video message, she said: "During a time where it's impossible to watch the news without seeing violence or racism in this country, just when you think it couldn't possibly get worse, natural disasters take precious life, do massive damage and forever change lives, leaving behind contaminated water, flooded hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

"Natural disasters don't discriminate. They don't see if you're an immigrant, black or white, Hispanic or Asian, Jewish or Muslim, wealthy or poor. It doesn't matter if you're from Third Ward or River Oaks, we're all in this together. Seeing everyone of different racial, social and religious backgrounds put their own lives at risk to help each other survive, restored my faith in humanity."

A number of big names worked on the phone banks at the event - the brainchild of rapper Bun B and Justin's manager Scooter Braun - and many took to social media to talk about the telethon.

Nicki Minaj tweeted a group shot of many celebs involved, adding the caption: "Just got the word, over 15 MILLION was raised tonight. You guys are AMAZING!!!! Had such a good time speaking to all of you. #HandinHand (sic)"

Lupita Ngong'o tweeted a picture of herself and Bruce Willis, and wrote: "We've made $14 million thus far! Bruce Willis and I say thank you! @handinhandfund #handinhand (sic)"

She also posted a selfie alongside James Bond actor Daniel Craig, who was also working the phones.

She tweeted: "Call me!...or call Daniel Craig! 1-800-258-6000 #handinhand (sic)"

P.Diddy wrote: "Truly honored to be at #HandInHand supporting those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma. Call 1-800-258-6000 or text GIVE to 80777 NOW!!! (sic)"

Bieber posted: "Call me 1 (800) 258-6000#HandInHand (sic)"

Usher, Demi Lovato, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, Chris Stapleton and Darius Rucker also performed at the event.