16 Dec 2008

NZ joins Papua New Guinea aid effort

11:59 am on 16 December 2008

New Zealand is joining an international relief effort to help tens of thousands of people in Papua New Guinea affected by severe flooding caused by massive tides.

King tides engulfed coastal areas of Papua New Guinea late last week, causing extensive floods in the country's northern provinces.

The tides affected parts of Morobe, New Ireland, Manus, Bougainville, West and East Sepik, and Madang provinces.

One death has already been reported and it is estimated that 50,000 people could be affected.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand will provide $300,000 in assistance through NZAID.

The money will go to organisations such as Red Cross to provide stocks of emergency supplies.

Shane Bayley from the Palmerston North Regional Council was flying out on Tuesday to join a United Nations disaster assessment and coordination team.

Mr Bayley said a major part of the mission would be making sure resources get to where they are needed, given that ports will be damaged.

"Also a lot of the food gardens in the coast villages having been destroyed, that is their local supply of food, so its also ensuring they have a means of distribution for food supplies."

New Zealand Red Cross telecommunications aid worker Mike Carson is to fly to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday to help set up emergency radio contact in the flood hit provinces.