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Flight To Raoul To Help Assess Safety For Return

20 March 2006

Flight To Raoul To Help Assess Safety For Return

An Airforce Orion P3K aircraft is to fly to Raoul tomorrow to help assess whether the island is safe for people to land.

The Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences volcanologists aboard the flight will carry out a through visual check of any volcanic activity from the air to compliment the assessment by the boat-based scientists.

Department of Conservation Warkworth Area Manager Rolien Elliot said the flight, coordinated by National Martime Coordination Centre, which leaves at 10am tomorrow from Auckland, would enable a more complete assessment of volcanic activity on the island.

“Checking the crater from the air will give us more information to help decide whether the island is safe for people to land on. It will back up the assessments being made from the boat tomorrow morning.”

Ms Elliot said defence personnel, DOC staff and two IGNS vulcanologists, Brad Scott and Bruce Christenson, would be aboard the flight, which will arrive at the island at 11.30am.

The joint DOC, NZ Police and IGNS expedition to Raoul aboard the vessel Brave Heart will assess the nature of any ongoing volcanic activity on the island and whether it is safe for people to land. If landing is possible, the police will determine the feasibility of a search and recovery mission to find missing DOC staff member Mark Kearney.

The Brave Heart is due to arrive at Raoul at about 9am tomorrow morning.

Ms Elliot said the boat trip was proceeding well and the DOC team aboard were fine apart from some being affected by sea sickness.

“The Raoul team are keen to get back to the island to be involved in any search that may occur for their work mate and friend Mark.”

The DOC team onboard includes Raoul programme manager Mike Ambrose, two rangers Shane McInnes and Liz Whitwell, who have both spent a year on Raoul, and the five staff who were working on the island (Jim Livingstone, Morgan Cox, Melanie Nelson, Evan Ward and Lynda McGrory-Ward). They are accompanied by two IGNS volcanologists, Michael Rosenberg and Craig Miller, and two police officers.


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