1 Mar 2005

New Zealand Air Force plane to fly relief supplies to northern Cooks

7:39 pm on 1 March 2005

A New Zealand Air Force Hercules is to depart Rarotonga with reflief supplies for the cyclone battered northern Cook Islands on Tuesday morning local time.

The Hercules had arrived in Rarotonga with equipment such as cherry pickers to aid the clean up from the three cyclones which hit the southern Cooks in February.

But it has been pressed into service to get emergency supplies to Pukapuka and Nassau.

The New Zealand Aid Minister, Marion Hobbs, says while many houses have suffered extensive damage, the food and water shortage is more pressing.

"It is not so much that the houses have been damaged but that the contents of the houses have been taken out, so that the supplies going out on the Hercules are tinned food, coffee, biscuits,and fresh water, blankets, chainsaws, tarpaulins, clothes and medical supplies."

The plane has to land at Penryhn and an interisland ship will deliver the supplies to Pukapuka and Nassau - that will involve a two-day voyage.