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Foreign Warships Arrive to Help Kaikoura

Air Force NH90 helicopters continued evacuating people from Kaikoura today. About 660 people have been evacuated by both the Air Force and Navy.
Air Force NH90 helicopters continued evacuating people from Kaikoura today. About 660 people have been evacuated by both the Air Force and Navy.

17 November 2016

Warships from Australia, Canada and the United States, with about 660 sailors and four helicopters between them, are in Kaikoura to support the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) disaster relief operation.

“The ships, crews and maritime helicopters provided by our partner militaries have given us a great deal of flexibility in supporting the national relief effort,” Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said.

“They could assist in the clean-up, movement of vital aid supplies and in conducting welfare checks in communities affected by Monday’s earthquake.”

MAJGEN Gall said poor weather conditions, further cracks on the road and risks of further landslides halted a convoy of 27 Defence Force trucks that left Burnham Military Camp before midday, carrying vital aid supplies for quake-damaged communities in North Canterbury.

Another survey will be conducted before the convoy is allowed to proceed to Kaikoura, he said.

The convoy was earlier given the green light to move after Army engineers completed a reconnaissance of the Waiau to Kaikoura route this morning. Massive slips caused by Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake cut off land access to Kaikoura.

Aid supplies, including food, medicines and portable toilets, are being loaded into the amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury, which evacuated around 450 people out of Kaikoura yesterday. The ship will return to Kaikoura tonight.

NH90 helicopters from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 3 Squadron today evacuated another 60 people and delivered two tonnes of aid to Kaikoura, bringing to about 660 the total number of people evacuated from the quake-damaged town. 

Australian frigate HMAS Darwin, Canadian frigate HMCS Vancouver and US destroyer USS Sampson arrived overnight from Auckland with the Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha. The foreign warships, which are here to take part in the Navy’s 75th anniversary, were redirected on Tuesday to support the Government’s relief operation.

Surveillance aircraft from the United States Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted surveys of quake-damaged areas, particularly inland and railway routes, today. 

The NZDF has mobilised about 560 personnel, at least 11 aircraft and four vessels to support the Government’s earthquake response.

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