31 May 2006

New Zealand to send engineer and new generator to Niue following fire

5:09 pm on 31 May 2006

The New Zealand aid agency, NZAID, is to send a new generator and an electrical engineer to Niue after a major fire on the island last night left most of the population without power.

One of the island's two diesel generators and much of the electrical wiring were destroyed in the blaze, which cut power to all households.

There are major concerns about the impact on water supplies, while telecommunications have also been affected.

Essential services, such as the hospital, are able to function using their own generators.

The acting premier, Fisa Pihigia, says last night his government asked New Zealand to send a replacement generator and NZAID spokesperson, Catrina McDiarmid, says they are in discussions with the New Zealand Defence Force on whether a Hercules can be made available.

"As you can probably understand NZDF are fairly stretched at the moment with things in Timor, so we are hoping that can happen as soon as possible, but as I said we are in discussions at the moment."

Mr Pihigia says in the meantime the government is doing all it can to provide the people with water.

We have used portable generators to assist with the pumping of the water from underground to the reservoir and also from the reservoir to some of the households - we are doing that at the moment.

He says they are also encouraging people to conserve water.