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Worker to assist in volcano-affected Vanuatu

MEDIA RELEASE 6 December 2005

Red Cross worker to assist in volcano-affected Vanuatu

New Zealand Red Cross water and sanitation aid worker Victoria Fray flies to Vanuatu on Saturday to assist in areas affected by the Mt Ambae volcano eruption.

Approximately 5,000 people have been relocated to safe centres as a result of the eruption on November 27.

Ms Fray will be assessing the water and sanitation needs of those affected, and then rehabilitating or establishing emergency water supplies.

New Zealand Red Cross will also provide 2,000 respirator face masks which will be used by villages in the affected areas, emergency workers, or those with respiratory illnesses.

New Zealand Red Cross operations manager Andrew McKie says that Vanuatu Red Cross staff and volunteers have been providing emergency relief in the safe centres and affected areas.

“Vanuatu Red Cross has been providing relief supplies from their disaster preparedness containers to those affected. 300 family kits have been prepared, and two 4,000 litre water containers have been shipped to Ambae Island,” he says.

New Zealand Red Cross will refill the disaster containers so that Vanuatu Red Cross can prepare for the upcoming cyclone season in the Pacific.

Vanuatu Red Cross currently has two emergency operation staff located on the island, where they are monitoring the situation via a satellite phone, Mr McKie says.

“Communications are difficult on the island and the satellite phone is proving extremely useful for giving situational updates.”

The iridium satellite phone was distributed earlier this year as part of a New Zealand Red Cross disaster response telecommunications project in the Pacific.

This is the first time one has been used in a disaster situation.

ENDS

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