New Zealand defence force set to support Australian firefighting

NEW ZEALAND/AUSTRALIA – WELLINGTON, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) — New Zealand will send Air Force airplanes and army personnel to support Australia in its efforts to fight the devastating bushfires, announced New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark on Sunday.

Three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, two Army Combat Engineer Sections as well as a command element will be sent to Australia next week. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) support will deploy by Australian Defence Force C-17 and New Zealand Defence Force C-130 from Ohakea Airforce Base on a number of flights from Monday to Wednesday.

“The latest NZDF support is being provided in addition to the latest rotation of five NZDF firefighters deployed to bolster numbers of emergency responders on the ground,” said the defence minister.

It is understood that many of the NZDF personnel were called back during their holiday leaves to assist Australian firefighting.

The NZDF contingent will deploy to Royal Australian Air Force Base Edinburgh in Adelaide, South Australia and will remain in Australia at least until the end of January. The NH90s will undertake transport tasks.

Heavy smoke from Australian bushfires was turning the skyline of Auckland, New Zealand into orange colour from Sunday afternoon.

On Friday, the New Zealand government pledged 22 more firefighters to help fight the Australian bushfires.

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