On February 22, 2011, an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale shook Christchurch, New Zealand. SCDF’s Operation Lionheart was activated and a 55-member contingent led by LTC Ling Kok Yong, Commander 1st CD Division left Singapore for Christchurch on 23 February 2011, 0321hrs to assist in the search and rescue operations.
The contingent comprised experienced officers from SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance & Rescue Team (DART), medical doctors, trauma paramedics, rescue engineers, and other support officers. The contingent also brought along a host of sophisticated rescue equipment. Four search dogs were also part of the mission.
The contingent swung into action immediately upon reaching the affected site and worked round-the clock. At the request of the New Zealand government, 33 members of the 55-member contingent stayed on for a further seven days to assist in the recovery operations.
During their 19-day mission (23 February - 13 March 2011), the contingent carried out search and rescue operations at 44 sites and recovery operations at 16 sites. The SCDF team also worked closely with the local authorities as well as the international teams.
This was the 12th overseas rescue mission undertaken by the Ops Lionheart contingent since 1990.