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Help on way for devastated Cooks atoll

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 15, 2010) – The New Zealand Defence Force says an Airforce Hercules will make its first flight from Rarotonga for the cyclone-hit island of Aitutaki at about 11.30 this morning New Zealand time.

A defence spokesperson says they hope to make one or two flights to Aitutaki today, but a further flight may be required tomorrow.

Squadron Leader, Kavae Tamariki, says they are working through logistical issues such as the lack of runway lights at Aitutaki’s airport, and establishing whether the island has a forklift or whether they will have to manhandle supplies.

The aircraft is transporting relief supplies including tarpaulins and tents, as well as a team of tradespeople such as electricians and carpenters.

The team may remain on the island for several weeks to help with reconstruction after Cyclone Pat damaged about 90 percent of homes on the island last week.

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