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Bondevik responds to criticism

Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said he understands that many Norwegian tourists in Thailand are frustrated by the lack of help from authorities just after the tsunami.

Several of the survivors after the tidal wave disaster in Thailand have criticized Norwegian authorities for arriving too late with offers of help. Lawyer Oscar Ihlebæk and his family survived the catastrophe, but said Norwegian authorities and travel agencies have been absent both at the disaster area and in Bangkok. Ihlebæk said it was Swedish and Thai authorities that helped the family after the disaster.

«I’ve never before experienced such presence and compassion that they showed us,» Ihlebæk stated at TV 2 Tabloid Wednesday. «Norwegian authorities were not present, not even at the airport in Bangkok.»

«I can understand that they, who did not met Norwegians quickly after the disaster, feel frustration,» Bondevik said.

Bondevik state that the situation has been very chaotic and it has been hard to get an overview, but claimed that the Norwegian assistance and aid work is operational in Thailand among other locations.

The prime minister said that it is too early to conclude whether or not Norwegian authorities reacted too late compared to other countries and that the most important thing now is to concentrate on the task at hand.

«Now we have to focus on helping and supporting the people who need it the most,» Bondevik said at TV 2 Tabloid.

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