14 Mar 2011

NZ search team in Japan 'prepared for risk'

11:20 am on 14 March 2011

A New Zealand urban search and rescue team headed to Japan will be deployed at least 120km north of a damaged nuclear plant and has been advised that the risk posed to them is extremely low.

On Monday, 42 personnel including medics and engineers left for Tokyo to join an international rescue effort.

The head of the contingent, Mitchell Brown, says the team is heading to a US defence base north of Tokyo where they will be briefed further on conditions.

Mr Brown says the team will then head out to areas worst affected by tidal surges that peaked at over 10 metres on Friday, triggered by a massive earthquake.

"We've taken necessary precautions with our New Zealand Defence Force partners that are heading up with us and we have the necessary equipment to mitigate any risk should our team get anywhere near any hazard," he said.

A 76-member Australian Urban Search and Rescue team has landed at a northern Japan military base and will meet with New Zealand rescuers before making their way into the quake and tsunami zone, AAP reports.

New Zealand contingent head Mitchell Brown says the team is prepared for a 10-day deployment, but that could be extended for up to 30 days if requested by the Japanese government.