UK teams fly in to join the hunt for survivors
Monday 14 March 2011
A british "heavy team" of search and rescue experts has been deployed to Japan to join a global relief effort in a desperate search for survivors.
The 63-strong crew, one of just 17 in the world, arrived in the stricken country yesterday morning, less than 48 hours after the earthquake hit the northern city of Sendai.
Armed with 11 tons of specialist lifting, cutting and digging equipment, radiation suits, medical personnel, two sniffer dogs and enough food and water to render them self-sufficient for two weeks, they've teamed up with fellow UN-backed members from countries including the US, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and China to focus efforts on locating the wounded.
Many of the deployed returned from rescue operations in Christchurch, New Zealand, less than two weeks ago, having previously worked on disaster zones in Haiti and Indonesia. They will remain in situ for at least 10 days – after which the chance of locating life beneath the debris will be slim.
Group manager Peter Crook, who led the UK International Search and Rescue (Isar) team in New Zealand, heads the UK Operations team from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Headquarters. "We're the main communication link between the guys out in Japan and the UK," he said. "We relay information between the men out there, their families, the Government and the Department for International Development. They've been on the ground since Sunday morning and are trying to get to Ofunato, 120km from Sendai. It's got a population of 42,000 and has been badly hit. It's extremely difficult for the team to get there, and they're working with the US military to gain access via helicopter. No search teams have been there yet and it's fairly remote so their main priority is to start pulling out survivors. They won't go somewhere that's been flattened and where there's no hope of finding life. Ofunato has been partially destroyed, so there's still hope."
Gareth Haghley, from a West Midlands-based Isar team, is the British welfare liaison for a six-strong command and control team out in Japan. "They're trained in all kinds of collapse structure work – breaking through concrete, acoustic listening, search canines, medical teams and swift water rescue," he said.
"Some of [their families] won't watch the news because they're terrified that their husbands aren't going to come back. It helps the team out there to know their wives and girlfriends are being looked after," he added.
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
PAs cleared of fraud - and Nigella Lawson left reeling at 'ridiculous sideshow' of drug allegations and public dissection of her marriage to Charles Saatchi
Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Bonuses for goals and top four finish as Luiz Suarez joins Premier League's top three earners
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £90000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£52000 per annum + Fantastic Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Audit Supervisor...
£38000 - £86000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Celebrate the New...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Secondary Maths Teache...