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Defence Force focuses on aid by road

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/11/2016

The Defence Force is preparing to send more aid convoys by road to deliver supplies to residents of earthquake-stricken Kaikoura. © Marty Melville/Getty Images The Defence Force is preparing to send more aid convoys by road to deliver supplies to residents of earthquake-stricken Kaikoura. Military vehicles will continue to transport the bulk of aid supplies through the inland route to earthquake-stricken Kaikoura until commercial vehicles get access, the Defence Force says.

With State Highway 1 impassable because of slips from last week's 7.8-magnitude quake, the former SH70 from Culverden is the only road open to the seaside town.

However, access is controlled, with contractors doing repairs and the Defence Force among those allowed on it and only in 4WDs.

Major General Tim Gall, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, says helicopters are still being used to reach remote communities.

But the focus on delivering aid by road would give much-needed respite to the RNZAF's NH90 choppers and to the HMNZS Canterbury, which have been involved in the emergency response from the start.

"We need to utilise the various assets we have deployed to best effect so that, if a new emergency arises, we are ready to respond," Maj Gen Gall said.

The Canterbury returned to Lyttelton on Sunday with 192 evacuees, part of nearly 1000 people rescued by the Defence Force.

Maj Gen Gall said the ship would remain there until it received new tasks.

He said two RNZAF A109 helicopters are being used to transport police to check on remote areas of north Canterbury.

On Monday, an RNZAF Orion did another survey of quake-damaged areas after a request from KiwiRail .

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