Tiny nation Tuvalu declares fresh water emergency

Associated Press
Prime Minister of Tuvalu Willy Telavi speaks at the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Prime Minister of Tuvalu Willy Telavi speaks at the 66th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency due to a severe shortage of fresh water, with officials saying Monday that some parts of the country may only have a two-day supply.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his country was working with the Red Cross to deliver aid workers and supplies as quickly as possible.

He said Tuvalu first declared the emergency last week and the situation had deteriorated since then.

Water was scarce in the capital, Funafuti, and a number of outlying islands, McCully said, adding that he had received reports saying some places would run out of fresh water within days.

A New Zealand defense service C-130 plane arrived Monday carrying two desalination units and a number of water containers, McCully said.

Tuvalu — a grouping of low-lying coral atolls that is home to less than 11,000 people — isn't the only Pacific island running out of fresh water after six months of low rainfall. Officials from Australia and New Zealand have said they are worried about other islands in the region, including Tokelau.

McCully said his government would work with aid agencies to try and figure out a long-term response to the situation.

Monday was and national holiday in Tuvalu and government officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

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