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Engineers dash to disaster zone

Over 1,000 professionals offer to help rebuild areas devastated by Indian Ocean tsunami

A 1,000-STRONG army of UK engineers is on standby to help rebuild south-east Asia following the devastating tsunami.

Engineering relief charity RedR has been inundated with volunteers pledging help. The organisation has a list of 300 available engineers, and 30 potential candidates have already been interviewed by the aid agencies.

Over 1,000 professionals willing to help have also registered on RedR's online database in the last week.

The charity said: 'Immediate priorities are in the areas of water, sanitation, logistics, public health, shelter and food supplies.

'There will be a need for some external specialist help in the coming days and weeks, particularly for water, sanitation and construction engineers, for logisticians and for experienced humanitarian managers and co-ordinators.'

It added: 'We have also mobilised several hundred specialists who are available for immediate deployment.'

The aid effort was mobilising as the head of the British Consultants and Construction Bureau prepared to fly to Indonesia to discuss infrastructure demands in the wake of the tragedy.

Chief executive Graham Hand will represent the Government at a two-day summit in Jakarta on January 17 to consider the needs of the stricken country, where more than 100,000 people have been killed.

Mr Hand said: 'The summit was due to discuss general infrastructure requirements but now will be focusing on the impact of the tsunami.'

In the hardest hit province of Aceh, the relief effort for survivors has been made almost impossible after the massive wave washed away many roads and blocked others with wreckage.

The BCCB is also set to make a four-day trade mission to Sri Lanka, which lost more than 30,000 people on its northern and eastern coasts, at the end of February.

Mr Hand is meeting with officials from the Department for International Development this week and is hoping to gain ministerial support for the trip.

He said: 'At the moment the emphasis is still on finding people, rescue and relief, but there will quickly come a point where governments have to think about rebuilding works.

'Utilities are generally fragile in developing countries, without the back-ups and fail safes which we would have here if something happens. So it will be important to put in work in this area.'

An Oxfam spokeswoman said: 'At the moment we are concentrating heavily on water and sanitation, using equipment we have got mainly stored in warehouses.But further down the line there will be a need for things such as forklift trucks.'

n From page 1 support for the trip.He said: 'The emphasis is still on finding people, rescue and relief, but there will quickly come a point where governments have to think about rebuilding works.

'Utilities are generally fragile in developing countries, without the back-ups and fail-safes which we would have here if something happens. So it will be important to put in work in this area.'

An Oxfam spokeswoman said: 'At the moment we are concentrating heavily on water and sanitation, using equipment we have got mainly stored in warehouses.

'But further down the line there will be a need for things such as forklift trucks.'

A Construction Confederation spokesman said: 'There is obviously an extensive rebuilding and regeneration programme ahead and no doubt the construction industry's building and civil engineering skills will be called into action.While the Construction Confederation will leave individual companies to decide their own course of action, we will support and advise them on how to contact agencies co-ordinating the relief effort.'

JCB has donated $1 million-worth of plant to help clear the disaster zone, made available through its dealers in the region.