New Zealand, Australia send aid to Philippines

WELLINGTON - New Zealand and Australia on Sunday donated an immediate US$490,000 (S$610,951) towards relief efforts in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines and said additional support could follow.

Wellington chipped in US$124,000 and Canberra gave US$366,000.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said their aid had gone to the Red Cross to help the organisation maintain emergency supplies and carry out impact assessments following the devastation of super typhoon Haiyan (Philippine name: "Yolanda").

"New Zealand will consider further support as the full extent of the damage becomes clear," he said, following one of the most powerful typhoons in history, believed to have killed 1,200 people in the Philippines, according to the Red Cross.

McCully's Australian counterpart Julie Bishop said she was saddened by the loss of life and damage to homes and property.

"We're immediately providing pre-positioned emergency supplies, including sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, water containers and health and hygiene kits for families devastated by the typhoon," she said.

"Two Australian disaster experts are already on the ground assisting the Philippine government and the United Nations to conduct a rapid needs assessment in those areas worst affected."

She added that "we stand ready to provide further assistance if required".

Haiyan is now headed to Vietnam and is expected to make landfall early Sunday, with millions of people thought to be in its path.