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NZDF Sends HMNZS Canterbury to Rescue Stranded Tourists

A massive slip at Half Moon Bay, about 19km northeast of Kaikoura. The landslide caused significant damage to the rail line and completely blocked State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura
A massive slip at Half Moon Bay, about 19km northeast of Kaikoura. The landslide caused significant damage to the rail line and completely blocked State Highway 1 north of Kaikoura.

14 November 2016

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is sending the multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury to help evacuate a large number of tourists and residents in Kaikoura and bring aid supplies to quake-affected areas.

Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said Canterbury will sail overnight to Kaikoura from Auckland, picking up emergency supplies en route.

AIRCDRE Webb said the NZDF has also deployed a seven-member team to help assess the damage wrought by the massive 7.5 earthquake that jolted North Canterbury early on Monday.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter flew the NZDF reconnaissance team and civil defence staff to Kaikoura this afternoon.

“We are ready to provide additional support as required. We have deployed a C-130 Hercules to Christchurch in advance of anticipated tasking requests and have placed our other aircraft and vessels on standby for other tasks including transporting personnel, equipment and supplies needed for the emergency response,” AIRCDRE Webb said.

The NZDF has mobilised multiple assets, including hundreds of personnel and at least six of its aircraft, to support the Government’s response to the massive earthquake.

An RNZAF P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft left Whenuapai at 7.20am today to conduct a seven-hour aerial survey of main transport routes and towns from Picton to Christchurch, including inland routes. An NH90 helicopter transported civil defence staff and surveyed quake-damaged areas, while another flew Prime Minister John Key and Acting Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee to Kaikoura. An A109 helicopter has also been tasked to fly NZ Police staff to quake-hit areas.

Photos taken during the aerial surveys by RNZAF aircraft showed massive rockfalls in several areas in the upper South Island.

“It is clear from the photos taken by our personnel that the major route from Christchurch to Kaikoura is impassable. So is the road from Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs and the one from Blenheim to Kaikoura,” AIRCDRE Webb said.

Over 100 NZDF personnel from Burnham Military Camp and RNZAF Base Woodbourne are also assisting Christchurch civil defence authorities.

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