16 Nov 2013

NZ aid workers now in Philippines

4:35 pm on 16 November 2013

New Zealand aid workers have arrived in the Philippines to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Caritas, a Catholic charity organisation, says a New Zealand emergency response expert is leading its relief teams distributing food packs and blankets.

Twenty-five New Zealand Air Force staff are also in Cebu to assist in the aftermath of the typhoon.

An RNZAF Hercules delivered 5.6 tonnes of emergency equipment, including 1500 water bottles, four generators, 800 tarpaulins and 12 chainsaw packs on Friday. The plane arrived about 6.30pm local time and also carried 24 soldiers.

Ambassador Reuben Levermore said the Hercules then went to Darwin in Australia to reload and would return to the Philippines.

The detachment commander, Squadron Leader Steve Thornley, says the team will make flights to Tacloban, Guiuan and Ormoc to deliver New Zealand aid.

The first job is to provide the equipment necessary to generate electricity and provide clean water.

Steve Thornley says their main obstacles will be the volume of traffic in the air and damaged runways, but both can be overcome.

He says the situation in the Phillipines is very similar to what that after the Boxing Day tsunami in Indonesia in 2004.

Meanwhile, Save the Children says it has received $75,000 in donations. The charity says $1 can buy purification tablets for 350 litres of water and $53 will provide a hygiene kit for a whole family.

Earlier this week, the New Zealand government pledged $2.15 million for disaster relief efforts.