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Australia Responds to South Asia Earthquake

Australia Responds to South Asia Earthquake Relief Effort

Australia has provided $500,000 for immediate medical and relief assistance in the wake of the major earthquakes in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bruce Billson, announced today.

'The contribution, through the Australian Government's overseas aid agency, AusAID, will be channelled through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,' Mr Billson said.

'Australian funds will help provide immediate medical and shelter assistance for affected communities.

'Towns and villages in northern Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have suffered significant structural damage, with people trapped in collapsed buildings and thousands now homeless and in desperate need of shelter and emergency relief,' Mr Billson said.

'We offer Australia's condolences to the families of the victims and continue to closely monitor the situation and stand ready to consider additional requests for assistance as further needs become known.

'Information is still being received on the extent of the damage following the main earthquake and up to 19 major aftershocks but initial unconfirmed reports suggest there have been thousands of fatalities.

'There are no reports of Australians injured and consular staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are continuing to contact Australians thought to be in the region,' Mr Billson said.

The quake measured 7.6 on the Richter Scale and occurred around 1.50pm yesterday afternoon (AEST) with the epicentre approximately 100 kilometres north of Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

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