The Australian Defence Force is working with other Australian government agencies, including Emergency Management Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to repatriate Australians who were injured in the White Island volcanic eruption on Monday.
CAPTION: The Aussies arrive in Christchurch, New Zealand, well equipped to repatriate Australian’s injured in the White Island volcano eruption. Photo by Corporal Jessica de Rouw.
Three Royal Australian Air Force aircraft were despatched to New Zealand yesterday with medical specialists and equipment.
They are are supporting New Zealand authorities to repatriate Australian victims of the volcanic eruption.
Yesterday, Australian government officials issued a statement saying this was a time of immense grief and great sorrow for everyone involved.
“This is another difficult day for those involved in the White Island volcano disaster in New Zealand, for people who remain in hospital and families who have received the most devastating of news, and those still enduring the agony of awaiting news of their loved ones,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“Our hearts go out to all of the Australians and their families caught up in this tragedy, and our Kiwi cousins across the Tasman.”
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Australian government, in consultation with their New Zealand counterparts, had activated a repatriation plan to bring a number of Australians injured in the White Island volcano tragedy from New Zealand to Australia for specialist medical care.
“This plan was formed following the Australian government’s offer of assistance to New Zealand to support its response to the tragic events at White Island,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Australian and New Zealand authorities are working closely together to enable the repatriations.
“We anticipate transferring up to 10 injured patients to New South Wales and Victoria, starting within the next 24 hours.
“Any transfers will depend strictly on medical decisions from doctors that it is safe to move the patients.
“Our focus, and that of the New Zealand Government, is on providing the best, most immediate clinical care for those most in need.”
Three Royal Australian Air Force aircraft were deployed to New Zealand as part of the repatriation effort.
A C-130 Hercules departed RAAF Base Richmond and two C-17 Globemasters departed RAAF Base Amberley to Christchurch, with specialist aircrew and medical equipment on board.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Emergency Management Australia coordinated the repatriation effort at the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
“Defence, Australian Border Force, the Department of Health, and the Australian Federal Police are also to be thanked for their efforts,” Senator Payne said.
“The NSW, Victorian, Queensland and South Australian governments have also provided aircraft support.”