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NZ decides not to send study group to El Salvador - 25/01/2001

New Zealand scientists, engineers and emergency management officials have decided not to go to El Salvador to study the aftermath of the recent magnitude 7.6 earthquake that resulted in the deaths of at least 680 people.

At a meeting in Wellington, a group representing interested parties concluded that a reconnaissance visit would not be warranted at this time.

A lot of information had already been received in New Zealand from international reconnaissance groups in El Salvador who were issuing regular reports on the internet.

Differences between New Zealand and Salvadoran climate, soils, vegetation, and population density also meant that only limited information would apply to New Zealand. Group members are continuing to monitor events in El Salvador.

The group also discussed a possible reconnaissance visit to Mexico where recent eruptions from the Popocatepetl volcano, 65km from Mexico City, have forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

Although New Zealand has received an invitation from Mexican authorities to send a team, an official New Zealand study visit is not planned at this time.

Mexican scientists will be in New Zealand in February for an international conference on volcanoes and the group see this as a good opportunity to exchange information.

The week-long conference in Auckland, called Cities on Volcanoes, will bring together volcanologists, psychologists, emergency managers, economists, and city planners to examine the impact of volcanic eruptions in urban areas.

The group who met in Wellington this week is made up of senior representatives from the Earthquake Commission, the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited, the Ministry for Emergency Management, the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineers, the Building Research Association of New Zealand, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.



John Callan, Communications Co-ordinator, GNS