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Friday, December 13th, 2019

Day three: Ships join Kaikoura rescue efforts

by November 15, 2016 General

Water and fuel are running low in quake-hit Kaikoura, as New Zealand and US defence force ships speed to the site.

More than 400 people were airlifted out of the South Island town yesterday, after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake near Hanmer Springs killed two people and caused widespread damage.

By 2am today, more than 1400 aftershocks had been recorded.

The water supply has run out much earlier than expected in the town of about 2000 residents, and some homes are still without power. The only operational supply route into the town is by air, and long queues could be seen yesterday at supermarkets and petrol stations.

The American destroyer USS Sampson was going to be in Auckland today but a decision was made last night to send it to the South Island instead. The ship’s two helicopters will help with supplies and evacuations.

Canada is sending the frigate Vancouver, and Australia the frigate Darwin.

The New Zealand navy ships HMNZS Wellington and the larger Canterbury are both expected to arrive this morning, carrying supplies. They will be joined later by the frigate Te Kaha and the tanker ship, Endeavour.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the addition of the ships and has accepted other offers of help from Japan and Singapore.

Evacuation helicopter flights, for both tourists and residents, are expected to continue for the next three days.

As the rescue effort continued, floods hit Wellington and Marlborough while a street in the capital was cordoned off because of the risk of a building collapse.

People wait at the rugby club to be airlifted out.

People waiting at Kaikoura’s rugby club to be airlifted out on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King