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Latest information on NZers in southern Thailand

Thu, 30 Dec 2004

Latest information on NZers in southern Thailand

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Foreign Minister Phil Goff today welcomed news that the number of New Zealanders still unaccounted for in the tsunami-affected regions of southern Thailand has more than halved.

However, he has warned that the possibility of further fatalities among those that remain unaccounted for will grow as each day passes.

"Major progress has been made today in reducing the number of New Zealanders unaccounted for around the Phuket region of southern Thailand from 124 to 53," Mr Goff said.

"This is the group for which we have held the greatest fears. We expect this number to be reduced still further as more are confirmed as alive and well.

"However for those New Zealanders who have not heard from their relations and friends in Thailand, this is a particularly difficult period. We will continue to make every effort to trace those still unaccounted for.

"Teams working in New Zealand and Thailand are continuing to check hotel registers in the resort areas, as well as morgues and hospitals. We are also liaising with Thai authorities to gain any further information; checking incoming passengers to New Zealand against our lists, and checking with the friends and family of those on our register.

"Family and friends with any new information about New Zealanders in Thailand are urged to make contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Red Cross hotline (0800 733 276).

"An RNZAF 757 departed from Whenuapai this afternoon and will arrive in Phuket on Friday. On board is a 10-member Disaster Victim Identification Team, comprising eight Police personnel, a dentist and a pathologist. This team will make a vital contribution to the international effort to identify the bodies that have been recovered, including any potential New Zealand victims.

"Also on board is an 11-strong Emergency Response Team comprising personnel from Police, Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who will replace and strengthen the team of Police and Embassy officials working in Phuket.

"Customs are leading an interagency effort to provide support for those affected by the tsunami who are returning to New Zealand. Support services are available at our international airports. Groups including general practitioners, District Health Boards, ACC and Victim Support (phone 0800 VICTIM) are also available to help those traumatised by their experiences.

"I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts by those involved in the relief work, including those doing some of the grim tasks that are required to be done on the ground in the disaster areas," Mr Goff said.

The figures for Thailand as of 5pm NZT, are as follows:

Total number registered 787
Alive and well 443
Unaccounted for but known to be in disaster area 53
Unaccounted for but thought to be elsewhere in Thailand 277
Currently hospitalised 12
Deceased 1

ENDS

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