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Operation Canterbury Quake in Full Swing

Army and Police personnel, Sept 2010, Christchurch
Army and Police personnel work together in Christchurch (photo courtesy of The Press)

07 September 2010

Following the 7.1 earthquake in Christchurch last Saturday, the Defence Force sent a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying Urban Search and Rescue personnel and dogs to the stricken region. 

Two Iroquois helicopters from No. 3 Squadron at Ohakea were also tasked to assist in aerial reconnaissance and damage assessment as required by Civil Defence.

The New Zealand Army was similarly quick to respond, providing support to the police and civil defence authorities. 

Liaison Officers from 3 Land Force Group (3LFG) have been working with the Christchurch City Council, Civil Defence Emergency Management and NZ Police since the earthquake hit, and they are an integral part of the local response team.

From first thing Monday morning Burnham camp placed 160 soldiers, (80 soldiers at a time on 12 hour shifts) in central Christchurch to support local police with the cordoning of the city. The mood of the soldiers is upbeat and positive, and public support continues for them with many cafes dropping off coffees and food. The soldiers, all from 2/1 Battalion, will do shifts for as long as they are needed. Additional support is being provided by a Reserve Force from Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles (QAMR) and Mortars and the ongoing management of our communications for troops is being conducted by 3 Signals Squadron.

Since Sunday, 3 Logistics Battalion has fed police on the ground and accommodated out-of-towners. The Army has about 230 mouths to feed and has been accommodating 84 Auckland police.

In addition to delivering meals to Police and soldiers in town, 3 Logistics Battalion has provided transport for the police between Burnham Military Camp, Christchurch city, and the airport.

3 Field Troop have engineers in Bexley and at the Rannerdale Veterans’ home providing engineering support and are likely to provide assistance with the purification of the city's water.

Soldiers from QAMR will soon be out and about in Selwyn checking damage to rural areas, and three medical teams will be tasked to provide additional support.

Chief of Army, Major General Rhys Jones visited Christchurch on Monday, accompanied by Commander 3LFG, to survey the situation and to reinforce our Army's support to the city. MAJ GEN Jones met with the Mayor Bob Parker, the head of the Canterbury Police and the head of Civil Defence. He also spent time at Burnham camp, talking with soldiers and surveying the damage around the camp and at the West Melton Rifle Range.

Reservists have been playing their part too, with 30 soldiers from 2 Canterbury NMWC Battalion supporting ‘Operation Chicken Rescue’ – the rescue of 23,000 chickens from a farm in Weedons whose coops had been wrecked in the quake..

The NZ Police say they have been extremely impressed by the professional commitment of the NZDF assisting of Police in the cordons around the Christchurch central city area.

Inspector John Price said, "We value the Defence Force's assistance and the manner in which they have gone about the task at hand.

"This was a partnership and team approach between Police and NZDF, and that in a crisis situation such as this civil emergency the strengths of both organisations come together for the benefit of our communities.

"Having the Army on the ground has provided a huge amount of reassurance for the people of Christchurch. On behalf of the community of Christchurch and the NZ Police, many thanks".

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