13 Jan 2011

NZ casualties in Queensland possible, says PM

5:10 pm on 13 January 2011

Prime Minister John Key says it is possible New Zealanders are among the dead or injured in flooded parts of Queensland.

New Zealand has offered to send a contingent of 60 Fire Service personnel to the Australian state.

Mr Key told Summer Report that they are expert in urban search and rescue.

Fourteen people have been confirmed dead in the floods since Monday and at least 40 are still unaccounted for in the state.

Military and police personnel may also go to Queensland, along with a second Civil Defence team to replace one already there. A Civil Defence team of 15 has been in western Queensland since Saturday.

Mr Key earlier said there are no reports suggesting New Zealanders are among the injured or dead, but many people from this country live or are holidaying in the flooded areas.

Reconsider travel plans - ministry

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says there are 150,000 New Zealanders in Queensland and anyone worried about family members there should call 0800 432 111.

MFAT says it has had no reports so far of any injured or missing New Zealanders. However, it is urging people with travel plans to reconsider.

Travel agency House of Travel says it has received many customer inquiries about the floods, but very few flight cancellations.

Retail director Brent Thomas says many people have raised questions about insurance or if their accommodation is still available in Brisbane.

Mr Thomas says at this time of year, the majority of people heading to Queensland are going to places such as the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast.

Some bookings for Brisbane and other flooded areas are being changed, he says.