Aid heads to PNG after landslide

The ADF has delivered much-needed supplies of humanitarian aid to Papua New Guinea in the aftermath of the deadly landslide that occurred in the north of the country on May 24.

CAPTION: Pallets of aid from Australia and the United Kingdom bound for Enga Province in Papua New Guinea wait to be loaded onto a C-17A Globemaster III at RAAF Base Amberley. Photo by Corporal Brett Sherriff.

A Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules tactical transport aircraft made an initial delivery on 28 May into Port Moresby.

This was followed by a C-17A Globemaster III heavy-lift aircraft, which transported 10 pallets of Australian relief aid including family-sized tents, blankets and hygiene kits from Brisbane to Port Moresby.

From PNG’s capital city, the aid is flown by RAAF aircraft – including the C-27J Spartan – to Wapenamanda Airport in Enga Province, the remote mountainous region devastated by the landslide.

Flight Lieutenant Toby Richter, captain of the C-27J Spartan, said it was a great honour for him and his crew to be directly contributing to the relief effort.

“We have a big mission ahead of us in support of our PNG family,” Flight Lieutenant Richter said.

“Enga Province is an extremely challenging region of PNG to access due its mountainous topography, associated weather conditions and security considerations.

“This makes the delivery of large amounts of relief aid particularly difficult as there are only a handful of airfields suitable to support these operations, and the airfields are not always accessible.

“Fortunately, we have been operating the C-27J Spartan in PNG under the Defence Pacific Air Program for several rotations now, and our level of experience operating in these mountainous regions is very high.”

Corporal Mitchell Hordern, loadmaster on the C-27J Spartan, said delivering aid into remote areas like Wapenamanda was a particularly rewarding mission due to the challenges posed by the rugged terrain and limited infrastructure.

“It’s an opportunity to help make a positive impact on people’s lives during a very difficult time, especially those directly affected by the disaster,” Corporal Hordern said.

Leading Aircraftwoman Ainslie Lamb and Leading Aircraftman Jesse Watts, members of the Mobile Air Load Team that flew over on the C-17A Globemaster, said it was a privilege to be on the ground in PNG distributing aid to communities in dire need.

“It’s humbling to see everyone come together to do what needs to be done to give humanitarian relief to those who’ve been displaced,” Leading Aircraftwoman Lamb said.

Colonel Travis Gordon, Defence adviser to PNG based at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby, said Australia and PNG had a long history of standing shoulder to shoulder in times of tragedy, and the recent landslide and tragic loss of life in Enga Province was no different.

“Australia is proud to be a partner that PNG knows will respond quickly in times of trouble,” Colonel Gordon said.

“The partnership between the ADF and the PNG Defence Force is strong and enduring.

“Our defence forces are working together to respond to the recent landslide in Enga, including the delivery of critical Australian relief aid incorporating essential supplies, temporary shelter and other equipment.

“As always, Australia and the ADF stand ready to respond with our PNG brothers and sisters.

“The logistic and air support provided by the ADF to assist PNG to coordinate their response to the Enga tragedy is testament to the close partnership between our countries, and our defence forces.”

ADF humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations are expected to continue in Enga Province for a number of weeks.







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Posted by Brian Hartigan

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