International naval ships bound for Kaikoura to provide earthquake relief
International warships headed to the International Naval Review have been diverted to Kaikoura to help with the relief effort after the Monday’s earthquake.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has accepted offers of help from naval ships from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore.
The USS Sampson, HMAS Darwin and HMCS Vancouver are heading to Kaikoura, where their helicopters will help deliver supplies and evacuate people.
The USS sampson was due to arrive in Auckland today as part of the 75th anniversary of the New Zealand Navy.
Its arrival in Kaikoura will be the first time a US warship has docked in New Zealand since the ANZUS security alliance break up in 1986.
The New Zealand Navy has already sent HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Wellington to Kaikoura and it will also send HMNZS Te Kaha and tanker ship HMNZS Endeavour.
Kaikoura was hardest hit by Monday morning’s massive magnitude 7.5 quake, where two people died.
The town is cut off by road and its water supply is running low.
Civil Defence said at a briefing this morning that cellphone coverage and electricity in quake-stricken Kaikoura have increased, but there are still outages around the area.
Some residents have taken tourists into the community, offering food and shelter for those displaced.
200 people were evacuated from the area yesterday, but there are 700 – 1000 people still waiting to leave.
50 percent of Kaikoura has access to water which is expected to improve to 75 percent today
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the international aid.
“It’s heartening to see overseas partners so willing to alter their plans and offer their assistance,” he said.
“The International Naval Review is all about celebrating 75 years of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the bonds it has forged globally.
“Despite the changes to the planned celebrations, it’s poignant to see the anniversary marked with such cooperation and camaraderie.”