NZDF delivers aid supplies to cyclone-hit Tonga

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has taken 12 tonnes of aid supplies and a 10-member team to Tonga to assess the damage wrought by Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying aid supplies and an initial assessment team led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is on its way for the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa on the main island of Tongatapu.

“We are working with MFAT to get aid supplies to Tonga as soon as possible and stand ready to provide further assistance as required,” Air Commodore McEvoy said.

He said the aid supplies included 500 family hygiene kits, 200 shelter tool kits, 2300 10-litre collapsible water containers and 1000 tarpaulins.

The initial assessment team will help survey the damage caused by the Category 4 cyclone and help Tongan authorities identify worst-hit areas, Air Commodore McEvoy said.

Air Commodore McEvoy said an Air Force’s P-3K2 Orion aircraft has also arrived in the area to conduct an aerial survey of the Tongan islands that suffered the brunt of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

“The aerial survey will help assess the scale of the damage wrought by the cyclone and help Tongan authorities determine the next steps in their emergency response.”

He said the survey would focus on Tongatapu and the neighbouring island of Eua, and determine the damage to major infrastructure including airfields, ports and hospitals.

“The information from the aerial survey will help Tongan authorities identify worst-hit areas and mobilise resources where they are most needed.”