International warships arrive to help with Kaikoura disaster relief after earthquakes

Warships from Australia, Canada and the United States have arrived in Kaikoura to help with disaster relief efforts following this week's earthquakes.

They have about 660 sailors and four helicopters with them, and will be supporting the New Zealand Defence Force's efforts in the region.

Major General Tim Gall said the ships will help in the clean-up, movement of vital aid supplies and in conducting welfare checks.

"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," said Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.

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

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. Photo / NZDF
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. Photo / NZDF

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 today, 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.

Aid supplies, including food, medicine 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, bring the number of people evacuated from the quake-damaged town to about 660.

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 Royal New Zealand Air Force operation brings the number of people evacuated from the quake-damaged Kaikoura to about 660. Photo / NZDF
The Royal New Zealand Air Force operation brings the number of people evacuated from the quake-damaged Kaikoura to about 660. Photo / NZDF

The foreign warships were in New Zealand to take part in the Navy's 75th anniversary but were redirected to support the relief operation.

Surveillance aircraft from the US Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force conducted surveys of quake-damaged areas.

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

- NZ Herald

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