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6 May 2015, 08:15
A Scottish firefighter who travelled to Nepal with his search dog to help in the rescue operation following the earthquake that struck over a week ago has spoken about the "total destruction'' he witnessed.
Gary Carroll and his five-year-old springer spaniel Diesel have spent the past week in the country as part of the UK's International Search and Rescue team.
The 44-year-old from Torphins in Aberdeenshire is one of six firefighters from Scotland who are helping in the search and rescue mission for victims of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
He said: "It was all a rush when the call came. I was looking forward to being able to help people and putting the training Diesel's had into action.
"On the ground we've seen total destruction in some of the outlying areas of Nepal - most buildings are affected in some way. I saw a lot of buildings that have collapsed. We've also seen buildings partially collapsed and landslides. A lot of people are under tents or covers because they are too scared to be in the buildings.
"Diesel and I were tasked to search two buildings. Diesel worked well - he covered the whole area and did what he was trained to do.''
The mission is the third search and rescue deployment for Mr Carroll after he went to Sumatra in Indonesia in 2009 and and Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011 but it is the first time the dog has been deployed.
"Diesel has coped well in Nepal - he's stayed calm and relaxed. He was fine on the plane over and generally being here doesn't seem to have fazed him - he's just the same as at home. He got his fur clipped a few weeks ago during an exercise in France so he was ready to cope with the heat,'' he said.
"We've got a very close bond. We've been through this together - I'm looking out for him and I think he's looking out for me.''
The still-rising death toll from the April 25 quake, Nepal's worst in more than 80 years, has reached more than 7,300.
The other firefighters from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who travelled to Nepal include Martin Vardy from Aberdeen, Martyn Ferguson from Turriff in Aberdeenshire, John Aitchison from Gourdon near Stonehaven and Daniel Gall and Steven Nicholl from Forfar in Angus.
They formed part of the UK Government's more than 60-strong team sent to assist with recovery efforts.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: ``These highly trained search and rescue experts are putting their own lives at risk to pull people from the rubble and help those affected by this terrible earthquake.
"Scotland can feel immensely proud of these brave men who are carrying out crucial, life-saving work as part of the British response to the earthquake in Nepal.''