Rudd Wants Global Disaster Force

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday called for world governments to establish an international disaster response team following a string of earthquakes, floods and cyclones.

Rudd said international search and rescue crews were slow to mobilise after February’s New Zealand earthquake and the devastating quake and tsunami that hit Japan last month, and a more streamlined response was needed.

“If we had a huge event affecting a major capital city in the region or across the world with large scale loss of life, the international effort which would then be required would be massive and I’m not confident that currently the international system of cooperation and coordination would be up to it,” Rudd told reporters.

“Our current arrangements are not… sharp enough for that response to be as rapid and as large scale as it needs to be,” he added.

Chances of survival drop steeply after the first 24 hours and Rudd said a system was needed to mobilise search and rescue crews from willing nations immediately after a disaster struck.

The foreign minister said he had raised the concept at the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit.

Rudd made the remarks as he escorted international diplomats through flood and cyclone-battered Queensland, where tens of thousands of homes were swamped and more than 30 people died earlier this year.

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