Wednesday, 30 September 2009

New Zealand helicopter pilot in middle of Sumatra earthquake

Damage in Pedang. Photo: BBC.
It's 6.45 am. Grabbed an hour's sleep between 4.45 and 5.45 am. Conducted over 35 interviews during the night. Just said goodbye to the boys as they left to catch the school bus.

The best first hand account I have got so far if from my old friend Colin Tuck. Tucky is one of New Zealand's best helicopter pilots and is based in a village called Battang Toro west north west of Pedang. His company services oil rigs drilling out in the Indian Ocean. He felt the quake yesterday and said it was a huge shake and just went on and on. With a wry sense of humour he said, " I was with 4 Aussies when the quake struck, and they were shitting themselves, but being a Kiwi living on the faultline in NZ, I handled it OK." Tucky then informed me that as a boy he lived through the Inangahua earthquake, the biggest ever to hit New Zealand in 1968. I think it was an 8.9 or 9.0 on the Richter scale. I knew Tucky when he was a helicopter pilot at Fox Glacier and I was in charge of alpine rescue. We did a few rescues together.

Tucky said its raining heavily and he has been unable to take off. He said the weather is clearing.

I've been in touch with Wayne Ulrich my disaster management coordinator who is trying to get a flight from Medan to Padang. If that fails we will try to see if Tucky can fly him in. Wayne will be joining the Indonesian Red Cross DM staff . We are getting reports that the Indonesian Red Cross has 30 community based action teams on the ground providing first aid and rescue, and 12 assessment teams. Fift volunteers Red Cross doctors are flying in to provide medical help. During the past 18 months the Indonesian Red Cross have conducted an extensive disaster preparedness programme in the area and have relief supplies on hand. Will keep you posted.

Bob

60 comments:

Penny said...

Kia ora Bob, Kia kaha and god speed with your response. I have a good friend in hospital in Padang so am searching hard for information

Steffi said...

Really interesting post!I heard about the terrible situation of Sumatra in our News.My thoughts and prayers are with the peoples there!

Steffi said...

I wish you and your team good luck for your work there...

Bob McKerrow said...

Hi Penny

I am off to Pedang at 6 am in the morning and will spend a few days there.

The Red Cross flew in 50 volunteers doctors this morning to serve the badly injured.

Bob

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Steffi

Thanks for your good wishes and prayers. We need all the support we can get at the moment. We have 500 young red Cross volunteers on the ground who are doing a great job.

Best regards

Bob

Miles said...

Hi Bob,

I'm Merv McNatty's son-in-law, Miles Erwin. I interviewed you a few years back.

Merv's daughter Alice McNatty, 26, is in Padang. We have had brief contact with her and she is safe and uninjured.

If you hear any news of her or can let us know advice we can give her, on what she can do and how she can help, that would be appreciated.

I've sent an email to your red cross account with her details.

Thanks,
Miles
miles.h.erwin@gmail.com

Donald said...

Just read your comment about the quake and Colin T. Bob.

Colin helped my old friend Al. setup Twizel Heli Biking some years back and I did a few expolatory trips wioth them - one even with Colin biking off Benmore Peak, when he had a day off from flying.

It's a small world.

He may not recall me, but if you see him say Al. and his boys just had a meal with me this evening [just before reading your blog] and are well.

Cheers

Donald

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