The New Zealand Defence Force, supported by its international partners, delivered supplies to Kaikoura by land, sea and air this morning as it pulled out all stops to stave off a shortage of food, water and other basic necessities in the quake-damaged town.
“We are using our maritime, land and air assets to achieve our immediate priority, which is to deliver essential supplies to affected communities,” Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said.
“The ships, crews and maritime helicopters provided by our partner-militaries have also been a big boost to our disaster relief operation,” Major General Gall said.
Four maritime helicopters provided by Australia, Canada and the United States were helping offload about 216 tonnes of supplies from the amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury, which had returned to Kaikoura, he said.
Kaikoura mayor Winston Gray and two other officials conducted a survey of quake-damaged areas in USS Sampson’s Seahawk helicopter this morning.
A convoy of 28 Defence Force trucks left Culverden at 9.30am, carrying vital supplies for quake-damaged communities in North Canterbury. Poor weather conditions, further cracks on the road and risks of further landslides halted the aid convoy on Thursday.
Commander Simon Rooke, the Commanding Officer of Canterbury, said the ship’s Seasprite helicopter was working with the Seahawks and Sea King choppers from Australia, Canada and the US to ferry the aid supplies ashore in underslung loads.
“We hope that the support being provided by the NZDF and our international partners is bolstering the spirits of the people of Kaikoura. We are ready to provide further support as required,” Commander Rooke said.
The aid delivery included 13,000 kilograms of food, 2780kg of fruit and vegetables, 6000kg of rice, pasta and flour, 80 portable toilets, 500kg of toilet paper, four generators, two portable pumps and 10,000kg of pet food, he said.
An NH90 helicopter from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 3 Squadron transported a power generator to Kaikoura and rescued another 60 people on Thursday afternoon, bringing to about 660 the total number of people evacuated.
The NZDF has mobilised about 560 personnel, at least 11 aircraft and four vessels to support the Government’s earthquake response.