19 Mar 2010

France requisitions New Caledonian plane to help Wallis cyclone victims

9:27 am on 19 March 2010

The French government has requisitioned a New Caledonian airliner to help the victims of Cyclone Tomas on Wallis and Futuna.

The order for Air Caledonie Internationale to provide an Airbus was issued in part based on police powers dating back to 1945.

The carrier has been instructed to fly, at its cost, 14 soldiers and five others as well as several tonnes of food supplies from Noumea to the disaster area.

The French high commission says the storm damaged almost all crops and many homes, leaving 20 percent of the population homeless.

It says in Futuna's north, the cyclone tore away about 12 kilometres of the coastal road, isolating many people and leaving about 1,000 destitute.

The emergency flight was ordered as food supplies were down to last only two days.