Australia to Deploy New Urban Search & Rescue Team to Christchurch at Request of New Zealand Government

Canberra, Australia ( March 01, 2011

Australia to Deploy New Urban Search & Rescue Team to Christchurch at Request of New Zealand Government

Australia to Deploy New Urban Search & Rescue Team to Christchurch at Request of New Zealand Government

Attorney-General Robert McClelland today said Australia will deploy a new Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team to New Zealand as the two USAR Teams sent to Christchurch immediately after the earthquake return home at the end of the week.

Mr McClelland said the new team of 70 specialists will be led by NSW and is likely to include a number of USAR specialists from South Australia and Tasmania.

“The two USAR teams from New South Wales and Queensland on the ground in Christchurch now are expected to return home on Friday and Saturday, having worked around the clock since the hours after at the earthquake hit,” he said.

“These 143 rescuers have done a tremendous job in incredibly difficult circumstances, working 12 hour shifts often under rubble and inside collapsed buildings while significant aftershocks occurred.

“The New Zealand Government has conveyed its sincere gratitude for the work of these two teams and have requested the deployment of another USAR team for ten days to help continue the rescue and recovery effort.”

Mr McClelland said he will visit Christchurch on Saturday to survey the damage, meet New Zealand authorities and thank Australian rescue workers, police officers and medical staff on the ground in the region.

“The earthquake struck Christchurch a week ago today. Since then more than 500 Australians have been in Christchurch assisting with the emergency and recovery effort,” Mr McClelland said.

“The Australian Government remains in regular contract with our New Zealand counterparts to offer any assistance they need.  I’ll reinforce this continued offer of support when I meet officials in New Zealand at the end of the week.”

Australia is assisting New Zealand as it recovers from the Christchurch earthquake with:

  • 143 Urban Search and Rescue experts, to be replaced by other 70 USAR specialists over the weekend;
  • More than 300 Australian Police Officers – comprising 50 Australian Federal Police Officers and 250 Officers from NSW, Victoria and South Australia – providing assistance to NZ Police as part of their general duties;
  • A 75 bed Australian field hospital with medical and support staff, which is operating in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs;
  • A 25 strong Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) of doctors, nurses and surgeons working from Christchurch Hospital, which is expected to return home at the end of the week;
  • A team of QLD Police Disaster Victim Identification Specialists;
  • Two Emergency Management Australia Liaison Officers based in the Crisis Command Centre in New Zealand to ensure any requested assistance is provided as quickly as possible; and
  • Around sixteen Department of Foreign Affairs officials are on the ground in Christchurch to assist Australians, as well as six Centrelink Social Workers who are providing emotional support.

The Prime Minister has also announced the Australian Government will donate $5 million to the Red Cross NZ Earthquake Appeal.

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