New Zealand Defence Force, November 15, 2016 - The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has deployed its NH90 helicopters to deliver vital supplies of immediate aid to the coastal town of Kaikoura and evacuate stranded tourists and residents as part of a national relief effort following Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake.
Some flights early today were delayed by weather conditions, but by early evening about 140 people had been evacuated and the Air Force expects to fly almost 200 people to Christchurch by last light. Among those rescued are 11 campers, including two babies, at Kaikoura’s Goose Bay campground.
Wing Commander Scott McKenzie, Commanding Officer of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 3 Squadron, said four Air Force NH90 helicopters have been dispatched to deliver essential supplies and rescue hundreds of residents and tourists from Kaikoura.
“The earthquake has cut off land access to Kaikoura and disrupted power and water supplies. So we’ve been delivering food, water, diesel fuel and other basic necessities the entire day, and evacuating people out of there,” WGCDR McKenzie said.
The NZDF, Ministry of Civil Defence and Red Cross have about 5000kg of aid supplies earmarked for Kaikoura at Christchurch. The supplies include food, water and hygiene products, and jerrycans of diesel.
Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said the NZDF has mobilised additional aircraft and vessels to support the Government’s response to the massive earthquake.
“We have been working with the Ministry of Civil Defence to ensure the lifelines and basic needs of the Kaikoura community are met,” AIRCDRE Webb said.
He said the NZDF has also accepted offers of assistance from international partners. Aerial surveillance aircraft from the United States and Japan are due to conduct aerial surveys of quake-damaged areas this afternoon.
Hundreds of Defence Force personnel, at least eight aircraft and two ships are currently assisting in the Government’s relief effort.
Multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury left Auckland for Kaikoura last night, and is expected to arrive in Kaikoura at 9am tomorrow. The offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington, with a Littoral Warfare Unit embarked, is also on her way to Kaikoura and is due at 5am.