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BRITISH ARMY CALLED IN TO ASSIST ISLAND OPERATION

armyarrival4UPDATED WITH VIDEO: The British Army have been called in to assist the Isle of Wight’s authorities in preventing further flooding and damage to the Island, Island Echo can reveal.

Soldiers have in the last few minutes landed at Seaclose Park in Newport by Chinook helicopter, in what is understood to be one of the biggest operations the Island has seen.

Thousands of sandbags are to be airlifted in as the afternoon progresses and Army vehicles are understood to be en-route to the Island.

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armyarrival2UPDATE @ 17:23 – Two Land Rovers have flown across the Island this afternoon suspended underneath a Chinook helicopter before being dropped at Seaclose Park, much to the amazement of residents in the towns of East Cowes and Newport, who witnessed the unusual helicopter and cargo flying low.

Crowds of Islanders have gathered at the recreation park to witness the rare occurrence.

HM Coastguard Rescue Teams from Newport, Bembridge and Ventnor have been on scene to coordinate the landings alongside Police.

armyarrival3UPDATE @ 18:35 – A third landing has been carried out this evening as the troops prepare for their first night here on the Isle of Wight.

Island Echo understand that around 2000 sandbags are expected to be delivered tomorrow (Sunday) – a drop unable to be made today due to the fading light.

The Territorial Army HQ in Drill Hall Road, Newport is being used as accommodation for the duration of the Army’s stay.

The unexpected and sudden arrival of the British Army has prompted questions from many Islanders as to why troops have been drafted in today, after the brunt of the storm has passed with the Island returning to normal.

It is currently unclear if the troops will be assisting with the ongoing situation at Undercliff Drive, Ventnor, however the Isle of Wight Council have confirmed that the Army will be on the Isle of Wight for a short period of time to look at parts of the Island affected by recent weather.

Councillor Ian Stephens, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said:

“I am delighted that the government has included the Isle of Wight in its deployment of military troops in light of recent weather conditions. We are extremely grateful for this support and will be working closely with the troops to look at how they can assist our community.”

Larger Army vehicles are expected to be brought over to the Island tomorrow, however via ferry instead of helicopter.

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