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Australia offers assistance to devastated com -

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ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, says the Federal Government is offering
all the assistance it can to the Pacific Island communities.

Mr Smith spoke to me from Singapore a short time ago.

Minister, the death toll is rising from this large earthquake and series of tsunamis in the
Pacific. What's the latest information that you have on the scale of the disaster?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well I'm in transit with Singapore Airlines but this morning I've spoken to our High
Commissioners in both Samoa and Tonga.

In Samoa, where we're now focusing most of our attention on, our most recent advice so far as
Australians are concerned is that we think we've got seven Australians who've been adversely
affected. Three of those we expect will be hospitalised overnight and we're giving them as much
assistance as we can.

Unfortunately we are very concerned about the welfare of one Australian, a woman. One of the
Australians who's been injured has reported a woman in difficulty and so we are very concerned for
her welfare and we're working closely with the Samoan authorities to try and locate her.

Other than that, the most difficult issue for us is that the disaster has struck the south east
portion of the island where we find a number of both luxury and budget accommodation resorts and
we're concerned that Australians may have been there holidaying. It'll just take us some time to,
together with the Samoan authorities, to ascertain that and track down the whereabouts of any
Australians.

ELEANOR HALL: And is it only in Samoa that you're concerned about Australians?

STEPHEN SMITH: For a while we were concerned about Tonga, but I've spoken to our High Commissioner
in Tonga and the level of damage there is such that we're not concerned at this stage about any
Australians.

Other Pacific parts, or islands to which we were worried may have been adversely effected and
Australians there, like Niue, Fiji, Noumea, Nauru, all the advice we're getting in is that damage
has been slight or there's been no significant adverse effects and that's our most recent advice
for New Zealand as well.

So we're focusing our efforts on Samoa. We've determined already that we'll send a task force of
Australian officials to give additional assistance to our High Commission in Apia, the capital.
That'll be made up of both DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and Defence officials and
so we're effectively sending reinforcements just to make sure we've got as many Australian
officials on the ground as is required.

And we've also indicated to the Samoan Government that any assistance that they need in the face of
this tragedy then Australia is ready, willing and able to provide assistance but, as you'd expect,
the Samoan Government is not yet in a position to make a judgement about what additional assistance
it may require given that it's dealing with the immediacy of the problem.

ELEANOR HALL: And Minister, on the typhoon which has hit other countries in the region, there are
reports today that the typhoon which killed 246 people in the Philippines has now killed more than
30 people in Vietnam.

What assistance is Australia providing in response to this disaster?

STEPHEN SMITH: I've already announced that we will provide $1 million assistance to the Philippines
as immediate, urgent assistance, and we're also preparing ourselves for a further request from the
Philippines Government and also the Philippines' non-government organisations like the Red Cross,
and we'll do that as well in conjunction with the United Nations as required.

We're also of course concerned that the typhoon has spread to Vietnam and we're getting reports in
of damage there and we will put ourselves in the position to provide assistance there as required.
The Vietnamese authorities have not yet formally requested any assistance but they have asked
neighbouring governments and NGOs to put themselves in a position to respond because the typhoon
has now crossed the coast onto mainland Vietnam, about 80 to 100 kilometres south of Da Nang, then
we're putting ourselves in a position to be able to provide assistance there as well.

ELEANOR HALL: Minister, thanks very much for joining us.

STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks Eleanor.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, speaking to me from Singapore.