Turkey and Syria earthquake: Greater Manchester firefighters fly out to join international relief effort

Four firefighters from Greater Manchester are part of a specialist search and rescue team working in Turkey following the massive earthquake which has killed thousands of people.
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Firefighters from Greater Manchester have flown to Turkey to join the international relief effort after the country and neighbouring Syria were devastated by a massive earthquake which has killed thousands of people.

Four firefighters from the city-region are part of the UK International Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) which has gone to the country following two massive earthquakes.

The first earthquake, which was of 7.8 magnitude, struck in the early hours of Monday 6 February. It was followed by a number of powerful aftershocks. A 7.5-magnitude tremor was felt just after midday.

More than 15,000 people are now known to have died and a there is a massive swathe of destruction and collapsed buildings across southern Turkey and northern Syria. Thousands of people have also been injured by the earthquakes, which it is feared were all the more lethal as they began at a time when many people were sleeping.

The Greater Manchester fire service team which has now headed out to help includes Ramsbottom station manager Martin Foran, firefighter David Hedgecock from Ashton and firefighter Steven Pennington from Leigh.

Destruction caused by the earthquake in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Getty ImagesDestruction caused by the earthquake in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Getty Images
Destruction caused by the earthquake in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: Getty Images

Assistant chief fire officer at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Barry Moore, said: “Our thoughts go out to the many thousands across Turkey and Syria who have tragically lost loved ones and livelihoods in these earthquakes, and to the emergency responders working to locate and rescue survivors. We know that those rescue efforts are taking place in challenging winter conditions, compounding what is already a very difficult operation.

“Four of our firefighters have now arrived in Turkey and will rapidly be deployed to assist search and rescue operations in the affected areas. As part of the UK-ISAR team, they are trained in the use of specialist skills and equipment and ready to respond to any humanitarian disaster that takes place anywhere in the world.”

UK-ISAR is a volunteer service made up of specialists from 15 fire and rescue services who are deployed to humanitarian incidents or disasters anywhere in the world. Greater Manchester firefighters have previously responded to floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014, the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011 and the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 as part of it.

In October 2021 Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service hosted a UK-ISAR training exercise in Bury which was designed to simulate the effects of an earthquake and test UK crews’ urban search and rescue capabilities.

The exercise involved more than 70 personnel from across the country, with crews confronted by collapsed buildings, displaced people, trapped and injured casualties and other challenging scenarios.