Kent team continues rescue operation

Seven firefighters from Kent have set up camp in Iran and are helping to search for survivors of Friday’s huge earthquake.

The Kent team has been split up and they are continuing the rescue operation even though hopes of finding survivors are said to be dwindling.

More than 15,000 people are thought to have died in the quake which struck the historic city of Bam.

The United Nations has said the search for survivors is expected to end on Sunday but a spokesman for the Kent team said they still expect to be there for five to six days.

Bodies recovered

The Kent crew are assistant divisional officers Neil Hubbard and Keith Burns, sub officers John Mazzey and Dave Hudson, leading firefighter Ian Selfe, and firefighters Matt Ivell and Dean Langley.

An estimated 80% of Bam was flattened in the disaster which registered 6.3 on the Richter Scale.

General Hasan Rastegarpanah, from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, said more than 10,000 bodies had been recovered.

Officials said about 200 survivors had been pulled out of the rubble, including a baby, but British Rescue workers have said hopes of finding more people alive are fading.

The Kent group, experts in overseas search and rescue projects, received the call to head for Iran within hours of the quake on Friday morning.

Their last special mission was to help in the aftermath of an earthquake in Turkey in 1998.

The firefighters, along with others from Essex and Hampshire, flew from Stansted Airport in Essex to Kerman, 125 miles from the epicentre of the earthquake, landing in the early hours of Saturday.

They have taken lightweight search and rescue equipment, such as snake-eye cameras and listening devices to aid the search for survivors buried under the rubble