Loughton search and rescue firefighter has started work looking for Christchurch earthquake victims

Essex team has ‘the training and equipment to deal with urban catastrophes’

THE Loughton search and rescue expert who has joined a team of Essex firefighters looking for survivors of the Christchurch earthquake has started work.

Station officer Len Cleary, from Loughton Fire Station in Old Station Road, arrived in Christchurch at midnight with the rest of the Essex International Search and Rescue Team (ISAR) and set up base operations in the city’s international camp.

After a briefing from the United Nations, crews quickly formed two search and rescue teams and began searching a collapsed building.

The UK ISAR team will work a two shift system, with crews working 12 hours on, 12 hours off, so the rescue can work round the clock.

Mr Cleary is one of six Essex firefighters who have been sent to rescue people left trapped after the Monday earthquake. They are veterans of the Indonesian earthquakes in October.

Before leaving on the 22-hour flight, station officer Terry Jewell, Essex team co-ordinator, said: “This will be very different from the work we did in Indonesia, we know how many people we are searching for and we have our sectors assigned to us so we will hit the ground running.

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“The entire team have the training and equipment to deal with urban catastrophes like this and we are pleased that we can put our skills and training to use in helping people in Christchurch.”