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Veteran Red Cross aid worker leads first Disaster Response Team mission to PNG

Tuesday November 20, 2007

More than 70 people have been reported killed in Papua New Guinea by heavy flooding caused by tropical Cyclone Guba, and fears exist that the death toll could climb if affected people are not reached quickly.

In response to this emergency, Australian Red Cross will deploy its new Disaster Response Team, a team of emergency response experts equipped and ready to deliver thousands of litres of safe drinking water per hour to disaster affected populations.

Australian Red Cross veteran aid worker Bob Handby, who has over 25 years of experience re-establishing water supplies after disasters and conflicts around the world, is leading the team as it deploys to PNG.

'The emergency phase of any relief operation aims to save and secure lives by providing basics like shelter, clean water, sanitation, food and basic health care. A lack of access to clean water and sanitation can compound the misery of disaster-affected populations through the spread of potentially fatal, but wholly preventable waterborne diseases,' says Bob.

'I've seen disasters in the Asia Pacific region,' says Bob, 'and I know the importance of providing access to safe water. If we get this right in PNG, we really can reduce people's suffering, and maybe even save some lives.'