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New Zealander killed in Asian tsunami

New Zealander killed in Asian tsunami

One New Zealander has been confirmed dead in the tsunami that struck south east and southern Asia last evening, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said.

"The fatality occurred in Phuket, southern Thailand. The New Zealander was a married woman who was travelling with her family. The body has been recovered and identified," Mr Goff said.

"New Zealand's Police liaison officer in Bangkok has gone to Phuket to help the family and other New Zealanders needing assistance. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official is also travelling to Phuket from Singapore.

"At this point we have no other known New Zealand casualties or missing people who are of particular concern. However we cannot rule out that there may be other casualties.

“Foreign Affairs officials here and in Asia are trying to contact New Zealanders in the affected areas. Verifying the whereabouts of New Zealanders is not straightforward, partly because tourists do not as rule register with our posts, but also because conditions in some of the centres make communications difficult.

“Our posts in India, Indonesia and Malaysia are also in close touch with local authorities."

Mr Goff said New Zealand was also considering how it could best assist disaster relief efforts.

“I am contacting governments in affected areas to express New Zealand’s deepest condolences and concern for their peoples who have been hit by this disaster.

“We will look at how best New Zealand might assist in relief efforts. The International Red Cross has launched an immediate appeal, and the government is considering contributing several hundred thousand dollars.

“This is not a disaster concentrated on one city, or one country but is spread over many thousands of kilometres of coastline, so clearly it will take some time to gather information on the full impact,” Mr Goff said.

The Ministry has set up a hotline for enquiries. The number is 0800 432 111.

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