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Army trucks add to Kaikoura relief effort

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/11/2016

Army trucks have made it through to the cut-off coastal settlement of Kaikoura on an inland route, bolstering the relief effort already well under way by air and sea.

They brought 7320 litres of diesel, 1540 litres of petrol, 10,000 litres of water and nine army chefs on a land route only open to emergency traffic.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is in the region on Saturday to say a personal thanks to the foreign navy vessels helping out.

Mr Brownlee is taking a helicopter to visit the USS Sampson, HMCS Vancouver and HMAS Darwin on Saturday and will comment on his return to the coastal tourist town cut off by Monday's 7.8 earthquake.

Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray says the seven ships representing the four navies "brought confidence to our community".

They have evacuated hundreds of people and brought in tonnes of much-needed supplies.

"We just couldn't have done without them and on behalf of everyone here I'd like to express our appreciation," Mr Gray said.

The ships anchored off Kaikoura during Friday were HMAS Darwin, HMCS Vancouver, USS Sampson, HMNZS Te Kaha, HMNZS Endeavour, HMNZS Canterbury and HMNZS Wellington.

Mr Gray flew on a US Navy helicopter north of the town to have an aerial view of the coastline and inland valleys.

"For the first time, I could see for myself the massive damage".

The seabed has risen, threatening the shellfish industry, and State Highway 1, the main route into Kaikoura, remains covered by massive movements of earth.

"Now I can see the huge job ahead of us," Mr Gray says.

Five of the army trucks in Kaikoura will head back to Culverden to get further supplies and the rest will remain in Kaikoura to distribute supplies.

Up to 16 military trucks will leave from Burnham Military Camp on Saturday morning to pick up food and other aid supplies for Kaikoura, Major-General Tim Gall, says.

The HMNZS Canterbury has delivered 13,000kg of food including 200kg of potatoes, 350kg of bread, 6000kg of rice, pasta and flour.

Animals haven't been forgotten with 10,000kg of pet food on board.

Other supplies sent in include blankets, telecommunications equipment, medical supplies, portable toilets and 500kg of toilet paper to use on them.

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