Orion heads to Samoa, Hercules on stand-by - RePress


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Wednesday, September 30

Orion heads to Samoa, Hercules on stand-by

An Airforce P3 Orion is enroute to Samoa, and before dark may be able to join the coastal search for survivors of this morning's earthquake and tsunami, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said today.

"The Orion will join the search along the coast of Upolu, Savaii, and other islands, and also help assess damage to villages, roads and infrastructure," Mr McCully said.

"A C130 Hercules is also on standby to carry emergency supplies to Samoa if needed.

"The full extent of the disaster is not yet clear but reports suggest there has been significant damage around the southern coast of Upolu, and it seems likely that many people have been injured or killed.

"New Zealand's diplomatic missions around the Pacific are in contact with local governments over what damage has been suffered, and how we might be able to assist.

"Reports from Tonga suggest the northern island of Niuatoputapu has been affected, but no firm details are yet available.

"The Cook Islands has reported limited wave activity and no serious damage, however communications with the northern Cooks is limited. Other countries around the Pacific are reporting no significant damage or casualties.

"The New Zealand High Commission in Apia is working to contact New Zealanders in Samoa to check on their well-being.

"New Zealanders in Samoa are advised to follow instructions issued by the local authorities. They should stay tuned to local radio, and stay away from the sea. We are also encouraging people to make contact with friends and family at home to allay any concerns," Mr McCully said.

New Zealanders concerned about family members in Samoa should try to make contact with them in the first instance. Those with ongoing concerns can call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 04 439 8000. Anyone worried about the safety of non-New Zealand relatives in Samoa should contact the Samoan High Commission on 04 472 0953.

The Pacific Cooperation Foundation has set up a Tsunami Relief Fund, and deposits can be made at any Westpac branch. The funds will go to the Samoan government.

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