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Evacuation of Australians from Solomon Islands

NEWS UPDATE
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
The Hon. John Moore, MP

Friday, 9 June 2000 - 1900hrs MIN126/00

News Update 4

Evacuation of Australians from Solomon Islands

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, tonight announced that the Navy's heavy landing ship, HMAS TOBRUK, has been directed to remain moored off Honiara until relieved tomorrow by the New Zealand ANZAC frigate, HMNZS TE MANA.

TE MANA is encountering heavy seas en route to the Solomon Islands capital but is expected to arrive in Honiara harbour tomorrow, Saturday 10th June.

Mr Moore said that HMAS TOBRUK had taken aboard more than 470 passengers before sunset today, and there is a possibility that more expatriates will request evacuation on Saturday.

"Ship's company have worked hard to accommodate everyone who has decided to take the opportunity to leave Honiara, and to make their civilian passengers as comfortable as possible for the journey back to Australia.

"The call to provide this humanitarian assistance came at short notice and reports from the ship indicate that passengers and their families appreciate Navy being there to help them.

"As Minister for Defence, I too would like to thank the members of the ADF who are doing such a good job for Australians and other foreign nationals in their time of need."

The amphibious ship, HMAS MANOORA, sailed from Townsville this morning for Honiara. It is equipped with Black Hawk helicopters and vehicles to assist personnel with evacuations, if required.

"The MANOORA has been despatched to provide contingency options. The ship's ability to operate multiple helicopters, provide medical support and accommodate large numbers of people make MANOORA a most flexible vessel for the task in the Solomons," Mr Moore said.

MANOORA will be on standby in the area to allow Navy to quickly respond to the Government's instructions.

This is the final advisory for tonight.

ENDS


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