(BIVN) – In the event the ongoing eruption of Kilauea along the lower East Rift Zone forces a mass evacuation out of Puna, the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed two large transport helicopters to Hilo.
The two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters and their respective air crews from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463) are on the Big Island, here in support of Joint Task Force 5-0, the joint military force assisting Hawaii County with the current volcanic eruption. On Friday, media got a look at the two CH-53E helicopters, which can carry more than 50 passengers at a time.
The Marine Corps Base Hawaii-based Super Stallions have an internal lifting capability of 30,000 pounds, the Hawaii Department of Defense says.
“The additional helicopter support from USPACOM and MARFORPAC provides the County of Hawaii and Hawaii’s Joint Task Force-50 tremendous capability. We now have the capacity to evacuate all of the estimated population of lower Puna south of the lava flow within a few hours,” said JTF 5-0 commander, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara in a media release.