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14 March 2011, 09:44
After the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, seven Greater Manchester Firefighters have flown out to the country as part of a UK Fire Service International Search Rescue Team, led by Peter Stevenson from Rochdale. Joining him are firefighters, Neal Pickersgill (Greater Manchester), Andy Horridge and Clive Geoghan (Manchester), Alex Sugden (Wigan), Mike Buckley (Salford), and Dave Swallow (Stockport).
They are part of a combined team of 63 who arrived at Haneda Airpoprt in Tokyo on Sunday evening, and have been dispatched to the town of Ofunato to help find survivors as well as recover bodies.
Stevenson says the group will use all their expertise to help out. "I have no doubt this will be an extremely challenging situation but once again we will be doing our utmost to use our experience, equipment and training to help the people in need," he said.
"A number of the UK team members have recent experience of dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, and previously events in Turkey, Algeria and Pakistan and I am sure will utilise everything they have learned previously" he added.
More than 100,000 Japanese troops are taking part in the search and rescue operation, but there is still the threat of a nuclear meltdown following an explosion at the power plant at Fukushima. There's now a low level of radiation in the area. A third reactor has also started to experience problems with its cooling system. 180,000 people have been evacuated from the area.
The death toll in Japan is expected to exceed ten thousand.