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Navy ships continue work, trucks arrive

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 18/11/2016

Evacuees stranded by an earthquake in the New Zealand coastal town of Kaikoura are taken back to Christchurch. © Reuters Evacuees stranded by an earthquake in the New Zealand coastal town of Kaikoura are taken back to Christchurch. Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee is flying out to say a personal thanks to the foreign navy vessels helping the people of quake-hit Kaikoura while residents celebrate the arrival of the first army convoy.

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.

Residents also celebrated the arrival of 28 army trucks, the first on an inland road, on Friday.

The Kaikoura emergency access road, also known as the inland route 70, remains closed to private traffic, and is currently suitable for emergency and critical support services only, officials say.

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.

HMNZS Canterbury will leave Kaikoura for Lyttelton on Saturday.

It's evacuating a further 100 tourists, together with 60 residents and is expected to arrive at Lyttelton on Saturday night.

This will bring the total evacuated from Kaikoura to almost 900.

HMNZS Canterbury will return to Kaikoura, probably on Sunday.

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