Typhoon Haiyan: NZ Air Force airlifts survivors to safety

Aid is unloaded from a RNZAF C-130 Hercules at Guiuan airfield. Photo / RNZAF
Aid is unloaded from a RNZAF C-130 Hercules at Guiuan airfield. Photo / RNZAF

A New Zealand Air Force cargo plane has airlifted about 240 Typhoon Haiyan survivors to safety and distributed aid in the Philippines.

"We are supporting the international effort to get aid into the worst-hit areas, where there is a huge humanitarian need for food, water and shelter,'' Squadron Leader Steve Thornley said.

"We also tried to get as many people as we can to better conditions in Cebu,'' he said, referring to one of few cities in the region that escaped the wrath of the super storm.

Yesterday, the RNZAF's C-130 Hercules delivered about 30 tonnes of rice, tin food, water, emergency shelter, field hospital equipment and toilets to the battered cities of Tacloban and Ormoc and the town of Guiuan as part of an international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation in the Philippines.

"We will try to reach other hard-hit areas in coming days,'' Squadron Leader Thornley said.

The RNZAF C-130, which arrived in Cebu on Friday with about six tonnes of aid and emergency supplies, has joined a multinational fleet of military aircraft which are helping distribute food, water and emergency shelter to survivors stranded in remote locations in the Southeast Asian country.

Squadron Leader James Anderson said they would fly to Darwin today to pick up another four tonnes of disaster relief goods donated by the New Zealand government, private sector and non-government organisations.

"We are doing as much as we can in coordination with the Philippine military. It's great to be part of this multinational effort to help the Philippines and have the opportunity to make a difference. It's very rewarding to be able to wave the Kiwi flag,'' he said.

See a gallery of the aftermath here:

Thousands of survivors, desperate to flee the typhoon-ravaged area, were queuing at the damaged airports of Tacloban, Ormoc and Guiuan when the RNZAF aircraft arrived on Saturday, Squadron Leader Anderson said.

At Ormoc, where thousands of people were feared to have been killed by the super storm, survivors ran to the RNZAF aircraft as soon as they were told that they could board.

"Someone told me this is a New Zealand aircraft. Thank you New Zealand for getting me and my family to safety, thank you for helping us,'' said Cristino Campo, a 50-year-old carpenter from Tacloban who was taken from the area, along with his wife and three children.

- APNZ

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