The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has increased its support to the people of Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a series of severe aftershocks continue to affect the country’s remote Highland areas.
In response to a request from the PNG Government, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemaster, loaded with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) supplies and ADF personnel departed from Townsville today.
The C-17 joins the three Australian Army CH-47F Chinook helicopters already in PNG to assist local authorities and the PNG Defence Force to distribute emergency supplies to those affected by the disaster.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said ADF personnel and aviation assets are extremely capable when it comes to regional HADR operations.
“The current levels of ADF support, particularly the CH-47F helicopters and their ability to reach these remote Highland areas is critical as the number of casualties rises and level of damage increases,” Minister Payne said.
A RAAF C-130J and B-300 Kingair will provide an air bridge, transporting supplies and personnel, between Port Moresby and the Southern Highlands.
The three Chinooks attached to operation are crewed and primarily supported by members of C Squadron from Townsville’s 5th Aviation Regiment.
Additional command, communications, logistic and medical support elements are being drawn from Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force units around Australia.
Up to 140,000 people were affected by the earthquake, which hit PNG on 26 February 2018.
“The support provided by ADF personnel is enabling PNG Defence Force members to distribute critical humanitarian and medical supplies, including tarpaulins, bed mats and water containers,” Minister Payne said.
Australia has also increased its humanitarian support to Papua New Guinea to up to $1.2 million following the devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake.