The Australian military has launched evacuation flights to repatriate civilians stranded in New Caledonia amid civil unrest.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) transports evacuated more than 100 tourists from Australia and elsewhere on 21 May, according to Canberra. Photos released by the RAAF show armed military personnel helping holiday-attired visitors in the island’s capital Noumea board a Lockheed Martin C-130J cargo aircraft with tail number A97-450.

Flight tracking data shows a C-130 bearing that registration arrived in Noumea at 15:14 local time on 21 May. Less than 2h later, at 16:48, the same craft departed Noumea Magenta airport for Brisbane.

A separate C-130 from the Royal New Zealand Air Force was also dispatched to retrieve some 50 citizens from that country.

The overseas French territory erupted into violence and unrest on 13 May over a law passed in Paris that would expand voting rights for non-indigenous residents of the South Pacific island.

At least six people have since been reported dead, with more than 1,000 French gendarmes deployed to restore order.

Local authorities say commercial flight cancellations have stranded an estimated 3,200 people in New Caledonia, although some of those were from flights attempting to enter the territory.

ABC reports that more than 300 Australian visitors have been stranded in the capital Noumea since rioting began. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) launched two evacuation flights as part of Canberra’s assisted departure response, the department says.

“Defence conducted a number of ADF flights to assist with the repatriation of Australian nationals, permanent visa holders and approved foreign nationals wishing to return to Australia from New Caledonia,” the ADF says, noting the flights were requested by Australia’s diplomatic service.

French authorities are reportedly coordinating additional flights, including for individuals located outside the Noumea region. Canberra says it “stands ready” to send additional evacuation aircraft if Paris grants approval.

The office of President Emmanuel Macron said on 21 May that the French leader will visit the island in the coming days in an attempt to defuse the situation.

In addition to tourism, New Caledonia is a major mining hub and is one the world’s top producers of nickel.