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MFAT: Asia tsunamis. Update 5pm 27.12.04

MFAT: Asia tsunamis. Update 5pm 27.12.04

1. There is one confirmed New Zealand death, a woman who was drowned in the Phuket area. Her next of kin have been contacted and the family has been contacted by MFAT. It is up to the family to decide what further details are released to the public.

2. We are not aware of any other New Zealand deaths or injuries but information is still being assembled.

3. Our call centre in Wellington (0800 432 111, or from overseas +64 4 439 8000) has received about 200 enquiries from New Zealanders concerned about family or friends in the area affected by the tsunamis. Anyone having trouble getting through should keep calling - the lines are very busy.

3. It is impossible for MFAT to know how many New Zealanders there might be in the areas affected by the tsunamis. However the Phuket/Krabi area of Thailand particularly is very popular with tourists and it would be safe to assume there are substantial numbers of New Zealanders there.

4. A Bangkok-based New Zealand Police officer has flown to Phuket to assist any New Zealanders in trouble and he will be joined today by two MFAT officers.

5. We understand some 57 bodies have been identified in the Phuket/Krabi area and there are fears the final death toll will be much higher. Around 3000 people are thought to have been injured in this area alone.

6. Phuket airport is open and commercial flights are operating.

7. Police and MFAT staff in Thailand and the wider region are under heavy pressure. To allow them to do their jobs we would appreciate media working through the duty media adviser in Wellington (021 375 105).

8. We will put out email updates as new information comes to hand. We anticipate the last update this evening will be at about midnight.

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