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|US Sends Rescue Team to Help in NZ Earthquake
|WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two delegations of U.S. lawmakers, officials and business leaders who were in New Zealand at the time of a devastating earthquake suffered no casualties and are all safe, the State Department said Tuesday. The U.S., meanwhile, has dispatched a search-and-rescue team to New Zealand to help in the quake's aftermath.
A U.S. delegation of 43 government, business and community leaders was in Christchurch on Tuesday for a U.S.-New Zealand Partnership Forum meeting. Also participating in the forum was Kurt Campbell, the State Department's assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Nine U.S. congressmen attending the meeting as part of a separate delegation led by Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., had left the city several hours before the quake struck and were in Wellington, U.S. officials and a spokesman for the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Tuesday. All of those in the two delegations are safe, the department said.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton phoned New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully to express her sorrow over the earthquake, which toppled buildings in Christchurch and killed dozens of people.
To assist the humanitarian response, the U.S. sent a team that includes search-and-rescue staff from the Los Angeles County fire department.
"We stand ready to assist the government of New Zealand in any way we can,'' Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said in a statement.
The U.S.-New Zealand forum brings together government and business leaders from both countries to discuss ways the U.S. and New Zealand can work on trade and other regional issues. Among those in attendance were former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and his wife, Susan. An aide to Bayh, Beth Chrusciel of the Washington law firm McGuireWoods, said both Bayhs were fine following the quake and they had left Christchurch in accordance with local officials' request for people to leave damaged sections of the city.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
|02 22 11 by Newsroom
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