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PM expresses sorrow to Indonesia

PM expresses sorrow to Indonesia

Prime Minister Helen Clark has tonight expressed New Zealand’s condolences to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in the wake of the devastating earthquake off the island of Sumatra.

Helen Clark spoke to the Indonesian President by telephone this evening.

President Yudhoyono has postponed a planned visit to New Zealand this weekend in the wake of the 8.7-magnitude quake today. It is expected the visit will now take place on 6 and 7 April.

"Our immediate thoughts are with the people of Indonesia, particularly those living in its outlying islands who have borne the brunt of this devastating quake,” Helen Clark said.

"For the Indonesian people, today’s deadly tremor has compounded the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boxing Day tsunami. This makes it a doubly distressing event.”

It was announced earlier today that New Zealand would fund a helicopter to fly a team of doctors to Indonesia's Nias Island, off Sumatra, to treat people injured in the earthquake. Funding is being made available through NZAID, the government's aid and development agency. “I have told President Yudhoyono that the New Zealand government will consider further assistance once the full picture of the earthquake disaster emerges,” Helen Clark said.

The Council for International Development is contacting New Zealand NGOs to establish if any New Zealanders are in the affected areas. There are no reports of New Zealand aid workers missing or injured.

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