Air Force personnel prepare for a C-130 airdrop of about 5000 litres of water to Kaikoura. The successful drop took place about 6pm tonight.
16 November 2016
About 600 residents and tourists in Kaikoura have been evacuated by air and sea today as the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) stepped up its evacuation efforts in the quake-damaged coastal town.
“The evacuation has been a complete success. We achieved our immediate priority, which is to evacuate as many displaced people as possible from Kaikoura,” Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said.
AIRCDRE Webb said that with the evacuation successfully completed, the NZDF’s disaster relief operation would now focus on the delivery of vital aid supplies to quake-damaged communities.
“This is where our NH90 helicopters as well as those provided by our international partners will be of most help. Monday’s earthquake cut off land access to Kaikoura and other communities close to its epicentre so the only way we can get food, water and other basic necessities to these areas is by air.”
The amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS CANTERBURY sailed to Christchurch this evening with about 450 people, four dogs and about seven tonnes of baggage on board. The vessel is expected to arrive in Lyttelton around 1am on Thursday.
Two NH90 helicopters from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 3 Squadron delivered about 8000kg of aid supplies and rescued another 165 people from Kaikoura.
“It was all hands on deck as soon as we arrived this morning. The entire crew is pleased that we have been aided by good weather to achieve our mission of evacuating a good number of people,” Commander Simon Rooke, the Commanding Officer of CANTERBURY, said.
“It is a matter of pride for us all that CANTERBURY has been able to assist the communities affected by the earthquake, since she was also at the forefront of disaster relief efforts when a massive earthquake struck Christchurch in 2011.”
An Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft airdropped about 5000 litres of water to Kaikoura residents around 6pm. It also transported a generator and a water purification system for Kaikoura from Linton Military Camp in Manawatu this morning. Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake disrupted power and water supplies in Kaikoura and cut off land access to the town.
The NZDF has mobilised about 500 personnel, at least 11 aircraft and four vessels to support the Government’s earthquake response.
Warships from Australia, Canada and the United States, which are currently in the country to take part in the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary, have been retasked to support the national relief effort following Monday’s powerful earthquake. The ships – HMAS DARWIN, HMCS VANCOUVER and USS SAMPSON – are expected to arrive in Kaikoura from tonight.
Surveillance aircraft from Japan and the United States conducted surveys of quake-damaged areas on Wednesday.