Minister for Defence - Operation PACIFIC ASSIST update

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The Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Minister for Defence

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18 March 2015

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has established a Joint Task Force (JTF) to coordinate Australia’s support to Vanuatu with the establishment of assets assisting the response.

The Royal Australian Air Force has evacuated 256 people to Australia. Evacuation flights will continue as required with C-17A Globemaster and C-130J Hercules aircraft continuing to deliver relief stores, equipment and personnel to Vanuatu, including a 20 person Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) that departed RAAF Base Darwin this morning. The AUSMAT will provide urgent medical assistance and help to establish a temporary ward at the Port Vila Hospital Complex.

Last night HMAS Tobruk embarked engineering equipment from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment in Townsville. The ship will depart for Vanuatu with relief stores, troops, including Army engineers, and a Navy MRH90 Taipan multirole helicopter on board.

Today a RAAF C-130J Hercules aircraft is flying Army, DFAT and NGOs to Tanna Island in Vanuatu’s south, also two RAAF KA350 King Air aircraft are providing reconnaissance and local air movement support in the region. RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft continue to fly imagery reconnaissance missions over northern, central and southern Vanuatu.

Of note yesterday, Vanuatu’s President, His Excellency Mr Baldwin Lonsdale, and a 54 person NSW Fire Brigade Urban Search and Rescue team were transported from RAAF Base Richmond to Port Vila on a RAAF C-130J aircraft. This deployment brings the total number of search and rescue personnel in-country to 56.

Media contacts:

Chloe Petch (Minister Andrew’s Office) 0477 395 356

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

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