A 55-member SCDF contingent left Singapore for Christchurch, New Zealand at 0321 hrs this morning to assist in the search and rescue operations following the earthquake that occurred on Tuesday 22 February 2011. Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Law and AC Eric Yap, Acting Commissioner SCDF, were at the Air Base to send off the contingent.
The SCDF officers are from the Urban Search and Rescue or USAR contingent (codenamed Operation Lionheart). Led by LTC Ling Kok Yong, Commander of 1st CD Division, the 55-man team comprise experienced officers from SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance & Rescue Team (DART). The contingent is equipped with a host of rescue equipment like fibre-optic scopes, life detector systems and hydraulic cutters and spreaders. Four search dogs are also part of this mission. Many members of the contingent have participated in past rescue operations overseas.
The contingent (first flight wave) is expected to arrive at Christchurch airport at 1400hrs on 23 February 2011 (Singapore time). The second flight wave is expected to arrive at Christchurch at 1315 hrs on 24 February 2011 (Singapore time), after transiting through Darwin and Richmond. Upon arrival at New Zealand, the Lionheart Contingent will coordinate with the local authorities before being deployed to assigned areas to carry out search and rescue operations.
At this morning’s send off ceremony, Minister K Shanmugam said that “It seems to have been a devastating earthquake. The New Zealand Prime Minister has said that they ‘may be witnessing New Zealand’s darkest day’. We are all deeply saddened at the loss of so many lives and the scale of the destruction. We are sending our SCDF officers including the DART Team to New Zealand to help - to rescue lives and help in the post-disaster relief efforts. The SCDF team has the experience, and the necessary equipment for the task. They will work with the NZ authorities and be deployed where assigned or needed. Our team will stay for as long as necessary. This is part of our show of support to the people of New Zealand during this difficult period.”