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Earthquake spares Lewis-McChord airmen assigned to Christchurch

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Feb. 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm with No Comments »
February 22, 2011 3:53 pm

Tuesday’s powerful earthquake in New Zealand struck the take-off point for crews of Joint Base Lewis-McChord airmen stationed there to support scientific research in Antarctica.

Those airmen are safe, but it’s not clear yet if the disaster could delay their regular flights to Antarctica’s McMurdo Station.

“Everyone’s accounted for and there are no injuries. The planes are fine,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Masura of the 446th Reserve Airlift Wing by way of an Air Force public affairs officer.

Fifteen airmen from the reserve wing are in Christchurch, New Zealand, the earthquake’s epicenter. They’re paired with a contingent from the active-duty 62nd Airlift Wing, whose members also are reported to be safe.

“All of our personnel are well and everyone’s accounted for,” said Adamarie Lewis-Page, a spokeswoman for the 62nd Airlift Wing.

At least 75 people have died in the quake and 100 are missing, according to The Associated Press.

Crews from McChord Air Field head to Christchurch every year to fly Operation Deep Freeze, delivering supplies to scientists at McMurdo Station.

Neither the Lewis-McChord crews nor a New York Air National Guard unit in Christchurch, have been asked by the New Zealand government to provide humanitarian relief, according to public affairs officers and press reports.

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