UK government offers help to earthquake victims

Hilary Benn offers "financial assistance" to earthquake victims
Hilary Benn offers "financial assistance" to earthquake victims

International development secretary Hilary Benn has said the British government will offer "financial assistance" to victims of today's devastating earthquake in Indonesia.

Nearly 3,000 people are feared dead following the tremor on the island of Java which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and hit at 10:43pm on Friday.

In response to the disaster Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered his army to move in to help the many hundreds of injured people as well as those made homeless.

The British government offered its unequivocal support, with Mr Benn saying that "we are on stand-by to give any assistance to the Indonesian government".

"We have not had a formal request but I asked, as soon as I heard about the earthquake, that we conveyed to the government of Indonesia that we stand ready to help in any way that they need," Mr Benn said.

"The UK is willing to offer both search-and-rescue expertise as well as financial assistance which could be channeled through these agencies."

He suggested that although the Indonesian government had not requested search-and-rescue expertise it said Britain could help fund their own efforts to stem the crisis.

"Financial assistance would enable agencies on the ground to do what is required," he said.

Meanwhile Tony Blair responded to the earthquake by sending a personal message to the Indonesian president, telling him that "our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragedy and all of the people of Indonesia".

Aid agency Save The Children has sent off a team to the area today, while a small team from the British embassy in Jakarta has also set off for the disaster zone to assess the full impact of the relief required.


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