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Firefighters fly to quake-hit Japan

THREE firefighters from Bickenhill station are in Japan as part of a relief operation, following last week’s devastating earthquake.

THREE firefighters from Bickenhill station are in Japan as part of a relief operation, following last week’s devastating earthquake.

The country was hit by the tremor and tsunami last Friday and so far 3,373 people have been confirmed dead and 7,558 missing, but the final death toll could be far higher.

Pete Mills, Rob Norman, and Pete Shepherd are among 12 firefighters from West Midlands Fire Service who make up the 63-strong UK-ISAR team.

Bickenhill-based firefighter Dave Burns had only just returned from a similar operation in New Zealand.

In Japan the team established a tented base in Ofunato city with US colleagues on Tuesday, and have since moved 30 kilometres north to Kamaishi.

They have only been able to work during daylight hours, due to a lack of power and have had to endure numerous aftershocks. The team will use search dogs, specialist tools to penetrate reinforced concrete and metal, and shoring equipment to allow them to work safely.

There have been some communication difficulties with the co-ordination teams in the UK, but all crew are confirmed fit and well.

Andrew Mitchell MP, Secretary for International Development, met members of the UK-ISAR on their return from New Zealand last Friday.

Mr Mitchell said: “The possibility of natural disasters is likely to increase by 50 per cent over the next 15 years.”

 

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