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NZ medical team deployed to Indonesia

NZ medical team deployed to Indonesia

New Zealand will contribute urgent medical assistance in response to the crisis caused by the catastrophic impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Aceh province, Indonesia, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Defence Minister Mark Burton.

The Ministers said a 30-strong New Zealand Defence Force medical team would depart from Auckland on an RNZAF Hercules at 9.30am tomorrow.

The medical team will be part of an ANZAC effort to help meet humanitarian needs in Aceh, which began with the decision to deploy an RNZAF Hercules to work alongside the RAAF earlier this week.

The medical contribution follows discussions between New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Indonesian President Bambang Yudhoyono, and Foreign Ministers Phil Goff and Hassan Wirajuda.

Initially the medical team will fly to Butterworth in Malaysia, from where it will be deployed into Sumatra. The team will work with Indonesian authorities, and alongside an Australian Defence Force Health Support Company.

“The ANZAC Unit will provide medical services in emergency areas, such as Banda Aceh, where the population, and available medical services, have been devastated by the tsunami,” the Ministers said.

"With the death toll already exceeding 80,000 in Aceh, there is urgent need for accident and emergency assistance, as well as public health support to prevent that toll multiplying through the spread of diseases such as cholera, malaria and dysentery," Phil Goff said.

"New Zealand is also considering a further medical deployment to Indonesia in the near future. This will be announced as soon as details are finalised," the Ministers said.

After deploying the medical team, the C-130 Hercules will be made available for further humanitarian tasks in the region, such as airlifting relief supplies and personnel to tsunami affected areas.

This C-130 deployment brings to three the number of RNZAF units committed to tsunami relief.

A RNZAF Boeing 757 arrived on 31 December carrying Police and Defence Force personnel to help with victim identification, while a C-130 deployed on 28 December has so far flown 22 hours and delivered 25 tonnes of relief supplies to Indonesia. After repairs to a cracked manifold, it will resume work this afternoon, flying a water purification plant into Aceh province.

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