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Firefighters return home after Turkey rescue effort

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service search and rescue specialists have returned home safely following their deployment to earthquake-hit Turkey.

Nine firefighters from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service were part of the UK International Search and Rescue team sent out to help in the aftermath of the disaster.

Deployed for more than a week, the 77-strong team – along with four fire and rescue search dogs – searched hundreds of buildings, helping to locate and rescue a number of survivors.

One intricate and complex rescue took more than 20 hours to complete, as the Hampshire and Isle of Wight team worked alongside their colleagues to rescue two people from the collapsed ruins of a hotel.

They also worked with countless other international search and rescue teams to ensure as many people as possible were located, getting the right kit and equipment to ensure people had the best chance of survival.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight team leader, Watch Manager Robin Bates, said: “As a team, we’re really proud of the part we have been able to play. Being out there was like nothing any of us has ever seen before and our hearts go out to the people who have been affected.

“People out there have lost everything, some of them have nothing, but they were still trying to give us food, drinks, and everything they could.

“This deployment shows the importance of having dedicated, specialist, highly skilled firefighters, who can respond to a disaster of this size and on this scale at a moment’s notice.

“There was always great support for us here at home and we really appreciated that as well.”

Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin said: “I am immensely proud of our team and the support they have been able to provide to the people of Turkey in the darkest days of their lives.

“The team’s skill and dedication has made a real difference to people’s lives – and I thank them all for what they have done.”

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