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PM to return to New Zealand

31 December 2004

PM to return to New Zealand

Prime Minister Helen Clark is cutting short her annual vacation and returning to New Zealand following the devastating tsunami in South and South East Asia.

Helen Clark said today that she has been in daily contact with Foreign Minister Phil Goff and key staff following news of the tsunami.

“My thoughts are with all New Zealand families who have received no news of their loved ones caught up in this tragedy,” Helen Clark said. “As the days go by their concern deepens as does mine.

“I extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Leone Cosens, who died on Sunday near her home in southern Thailand. My thoughts are also with those New Zealanders who have been injured, some seriously, and traumatised by these awful events.

“In these circumstances I believe the best place for me to be is at home.

“Under Phil Goff’s supervision the New Zealand government has been working across departments and agencies to provide both support and advice to New Zealanders affected by the tragedy. We are also working closely with the authorities in Thailand and Indonesia.

“I thank all those across all departments and agencies who have worked around the clock to respond.

“I also thank all New Zealanders who have donated generously to appeals for relief funds.

“Following the immediate emergency response there will be enormous reconstruction needs in affected countries. New Zealand will play its part in the international coordinated effort to help.

“I have also spoken personally to leaders of several countries caught up in this tragedy, following letters I sent earlier in the week.

“Last night I spoke to the Prime Minister of Thailand and expressed both New Zealand’s condolences for Thailand’s losses and our appreciation of what the Thai authorities are doing to help our citizens.

“I also spoke in the early hours of this morning to the Indonesian President whose country has suffered the most deaths from the tsunami. He expressed his appreciation for the assistance already being provided by New Zealand.

“This morning I also spoke with Sweden’s Prime Minister whose small country is particularly affected, with many hundreds of Swedish citizens feared dead,” Helen Clark said.

Helen Clark is expected to return to New Zealand early next week.

ENDS


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