New Zealand rushes aid to cyclone-hit Vanuatu

 A New Zealand air force transport aircraft arrived in Vanuatu on Sunday with a consignment of aid for the cyclone-stricken Pacific island nation, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said.

IANS| Updated: Mar 15, 2015, 20:52 PM IST

Wellington: A New Zealand air force transport aircraft arrived in Vanuatu on Sunday with a consignment of aid for the cyclone-stricken Pacific island nation, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said.

The C-130 Hercules was carrying first aids kits, tarpaulins for emergency shelter, water containers, chainsaw packs and generators, said a statement from the NZDF.

Specialist personnel from New Zealand government agencies and the New Zealand Red Cross were also aboard to help carry out a needs assessment that will shape further assistance in the wake of tropical cyclone Pam, according to Xinhua.

Head of air force operations Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said the consignment would make a real difference with Vanuatu`s main airport still closed to civilian aircraft.

"The C-130 Hercules is an ideal platform for operating into areas that may not be accessible to commercial aircraft," McEvoy said.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Saturday that the New Zealand government would give an initial contribution of about $735,000 to assist Pacific nations hit by Cyclone Pam.

Topical cyclone Pam, one of the most powerful in the South Pacific in recent years, tore through the small island nation of Vanuatu on Saturday.

Although an official with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Pacific confirmed on Sunday that at least eight people were killed in the archipelago nation with 83 small islands, the toll is expected to be much higher.

The Vanuatu government and aid agencies have no means of communicating with anywhere outside the capital Port Vila after the worst natural disaster in the country`s history.

Cyclone Pam generated gusts of up to 330 km per hour, and the gales extended some 380 km from the storm centre.