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New Zealand to fly doctors into earthquake zone

29 March 2005 Media Statement

New Zealand to fly doctors into earthquake zone

New Zealand will fund a helicopter to fly a team of doctors into Indonesia's Nias Islands to treat people injured in today's earthquake, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"The islands closest to the epicentre have suffered significant damage," Marian Hobbs said.

"We are able to respond quickly because SurfAID, an NGO with close ties to New Zealand, is already working in the area.

"Dr Dave Jenkins, a New Zealander who founded SurfAID, says 70 to 80 percent of the Nias capital Gunungstoli is destroyed and help is needed urgently to 'stop people from dying'. He is working flat out to mobilise a medical team from the SurfAID base in Padang.

"Through NZAID, the government's aid and development agency, we are able to provide immediate funding for a helicopter to get the team of four SurfAID doctors into Nias as soon as possible.

"Now that it's daytime it will be possible to make fuller assessments of the damage in the Nias Islands. OCHA (the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), in conjunction with the Indonesian Government, has said it will carry out helicopter surveys of the islands closest to the epicentre.

"Further assistance is likely to be provided as a fuller picture of the disaster unfolds," Marian Hobbs said.

ENDS

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