Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Could Send Three to Six Military Helicopters for Philippine Relief

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Could Send Three to Six Military Helicopters for Philippine Relief

Article excerpt

Ottawa considers helicopters for Philippines

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OTTAWA - The Canadian Forces are considering sending a detachment of three to six Griffon helicopters to help with relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Haiyan.

Officials say teams on the ground on the typhoon-ravaged island of Panay are assessing the situation and the need for helicopters.

A final decision will be made by an inter-departmental task force in Ottawa, but the military is preparing helicopters for the mission if it's decided to send them.

"We're just waiting for that decision, but concurrently we are pre-positioning equipment such that we can get those helicopters in timely flow to the task force commander where he needs them for inter-theatre mobility," Col. Steve Kelsey said during a briefing in Ottawa.

The Forces are lining up CH-146 Griffon helicopters, a versatile, combat-capable chopper that can perform a variety of tasks including search and rescue and reconnaissance.

The Canadian effort now is based at the airport in Iloilo, but elements of the DART are preparing to move north to the city of Roxas.

The team's commanding officer on the ground, Lt.-Col. Walter Taylor, said the area is ringed by some smaller islands that would be easier to reach with helicopters.

The Canadian team includes medical personnel, but military officials say the initial work will fall to engineers who can open roads, repair basic infrastructure and provide clean drinking water.

Taylor, speaking by phone from Iloilo, said the DART will make its first foray into the remote, coastal areas of Panay island on Friday morning, an area that has received little, if no, outside help.

In all, the Canadians will be trying to help bring relief to an area where 300,000 families have been affected.

"Obviously with the size of the DART it is not our aim or our capability to reach all 300,000 of those families," Taylor said. "Fortunately, we're not the only show in town."

He stressed the DART is working with Philippine authorities, as well as the United Nations and non-governmental agencies whose "bread and butter" is providing direct humanitarian assistance.

Taylor said the area may not be hardest-hit area of the Philippines, but the need there is dire. …

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