Update: ADF Relief Operations In Sumatra
CPA 096/05 Friday, 1 April 2005
UPDATE: ADF RELIEF OPERATIONS IN SUMATRA
Two Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft will recommence flights from Jakarta into Sumatra today, Friday 1 April, to position medical personnel and equipment to assist with the earthquake relief effort centred on Nias island.
Early reports that ADF relief flights into Sibolga, on the west coast of Sumatra, had commenced were inaccurate. Attempts to fly supplies into the provincial airfield yesterday were thwarted by an obstruction on the runway which prevented aircraft from landing and required the RAAF C-130s to return to Jakarta.
The aircraft adopted a 'holding pattern' above Sibolga and sought to refuel at Medan, however access at Medan was not available due to congestion on the runway apron.
Subject to the runway at Sibolga airfield being open today, the Hercules aircraft will conduct air bridge operations between Jakarta and the disaster area.
Meanwhile, HMAS Kanimbla is steaming towards Nias at best speed. The ADF medical personnel will join the ship today, as it passes the north-west coast of Sumatra, and prepare the ship's medical facilities for the task ahead.
HMAS Kanimbla is expected to be in a position to provide assistance from early on Saturday morning.
Once in location she will be available to conduct medical support, helicopter operations and provide local transport assistance with her embarked landing craft (each of which is capable of carrying 50 tonnes of supplies).
Medical facilities aboard include a surgical theatre, intensive care, X-Ray, pathology and post-operative care.
Medical teams will also go ashore to conduct daily clinics, provide initial treatment and assess those requiring further medical attention.
The needs of the earthquake victims are the primary concern of everyone involved in the humanitarian relief mission, and every effort is being made to help those in need.