Stranded Aussies rescued from violence-torn island

Tess Ikonomou and Dominic Giannini |

Canberra will send two flights to evacuate Australians from New Caledonia following riots there.
Canberra will send two flights to evacuate Australians from New Caledonia following riots there.

Australians stranded in New Caledonia have escaped to safety after more than a week of anguish and turmoil from deadly riots. 

Royal Australian Air Force planes were sent to the French territory on Tuesday after the federal government was given clearance for two flights to bring back its citizens.

It is not yet known how many Australians were evacuated.

Damaged cars in Noumea
About 270 rioters have been arrested in New Caledonia and a 12-hour curfew imposed. (AP PHOTO)

At least six people have died and hundreds injured since violence broke out last Monday.

French troops are trying to stem further unrest, with buildings razed, shops looted and roads barricaded.

About 300 Australians in New Caledonia are registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A Hercules military plane touched down in Noumea after leaving RAAF Base Amberley near Ipswich on Tuesday, according to public flight data.

It can carry 124 passengers, according to the Defence Department.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the government will continue to work on securing more flights.

“Passengers are being prioritised based on need,” she wrote on social media platform X.

Australia’s Consul-General in New Caledonia Annelise Young posted on X her team had been working round the clock with teams in Canberra and Paris and closely with the French authorities to ensure safe passage for Australian tourists.

Senator Wong spoke with her New Zealand and French counterparts on Monday to request access to the territory.

New rules changing who is allowed to participate in the nation’s elections have been slammed by the Indigenous Kanak people, who fear their vote will be diluted by thousands of French nationals who have moved to the island.

Fearful Australians waiting to be evacuated have likened the deteriorating situation to a war zone, saying authorities were yet to control the chaos.

Sophie Jones Bradshaw, who is waiting for a flight to Australia, criticised the lack of communication from the foreign affairs department.

A New Zealand plane also flew to New Caledonia on Tuesday morning.

“New Zealanders in New Caledonia have faced a challenging few days and bringing them home has been an urgent priority for the government,” Foreign Minister Winston Peters said.

“In co-operation with France and Australia, we are working on subsequent flights in coming days.”

Penny Wong and Winston Peters
Penny Wong and Winston Peters confirmed flights to bring Australians and New Zealanders home. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

About 270 rioters have been arrested, and a 12-hour curfew imposed from 6pm to 6am.

France has sent more than 1000 security personnel, with hundreds more to join, in a bid to quell the unrest.

The reopening of the international airport for commercial flights will be reassessed on Thursday.

Australia has urged people to reconsider their need to travel to New Caledonia. Those in the territory have been advised to limit their movement.

AAP