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NZ deploys more personnel for tsunami relief work

NZ deploys more personnel for tsunami relief work

New Zealand has this weekend deployed three more groups of personnel to assist in the tsunami disaster relief effort, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Defence Minister Mark Burton.

"The 30 members of the Defence Force Light Medical Team have now deployed in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where they will set up in the public hospital. Their first task, now underway, will be to clean up the facility, which was extensively damaged by the tsunami," the Ministers said.

Mr Burton said the team would work alongside an Australian Health Support Company to provide primary health care and environmental health support. The Company is to operate a 90-bed facility with level one through to level three medical and surgical capabilities.

"A key concern at this point is to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease through the conditions left behind by the tsunami.

"Five Defence Force staff have also been deployed this weekend to Medan to work in the Taskforce Headquarters, which is charged with coordinating Australian and New Zealand military units involved in the relief efforts in Aceh.

"Joint cooperation with the Australians makes our delivery of services more effective and efficient, and reflects the ANZAC tradition," Mr Burton said.

Mr Goff announced a strengthening of the New Zealand Disaster Victim Identification team already working in Phuket, Thailand. Four additional staff, consisting of two forensic dentists, a mortuary technician and a psychologist, have arrived in Thailand to supplement the team.

"Police are planning to rotate the team every three weeks. The team has a particularly tough job to do in extraordinarily unpleasant circumstances, and regular rotations are necessary. The psychologist will work with the teams to help members cope with the grim task they are performing.

"Once again, our thanks go to those who are performing these services so that families of victims can, to the best extent possible, achieve closure from this tragedy.

"It may, however, be months before this work is completed and the families of those whose bodies are identified are all notified.

"I would also like to acknowledge the on-going generosity of New Zealanders who have now contributed over $9.3 million to the disaster relief effort.

"The government will this week continue work on its proposed package of assistance that will recognise the need for on-going reconstruction and development assistance as well as the immediate disaster relief efforts. An announcement will be made on the package in due course," Mr Goff said.

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