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Wednesday, March 3

New Zealand gives $500,000 to Chile relief efforts

New Zealand is contributing $500,000 to international efforts to support Chile in the aftermath of Saturday's devastating earthquake, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.

"Around 800 people are confirmed dead; more are unaccounted for; many thousands of people have been made homeless, and there is major damage to infrastructure," Mr McCully said.

"While Chile has well-established disaster response systems, this is a major catastrophe for our close friend and partner, and New Zealand wants to play its part in responding to the Chilean Government's request for international assistance.

"As well as today's contribution of $500,000, we are discussing with Chilean authorities possible ways in which we might provide assistance on the ground, although no decisions have yet been made.

"Damaged bridges and roading are slowing relief efforts, and there is limited telecommunication contact with some of the hardest-hit areas, which also remain without water or electricity," Mr McCully said.