15 March 2011
British Search and Rescue experts search remains of house in Ofunato, Japan, on Tuesday 15 March. Picture: Matt Dunham. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
The UK ISAR team have set up their base in a school in Sumita, north Japan, near Ofunato, along with teams from the US.
This morning at 0600 local time the full team was deployed to the centre of the disaster zone in Ofunato. The team cleared a large industrial district and residential area. Although bodies were recovered, no survivors have been found so far. The team will now be tasked overnight with new operations.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:
"We are all proud of the UK's search and rescue experts, who are doing a great job under tough conditions."They are working alongside Japanese colleagues to give much-needed help and support to that country in its time of dire need."
The UK Search and Rescue team deployed by DFID have now arrived at their base, 20km outside Ofunato in the north east of Japan.
The British team will be working alongside US search and rescue colleagues and dogs.
Several members of the team have already carried out an initial assessment of the area earlier today. All teams will set out to begin search and rescue operations at first light tomorrow (0600 Japanese time, 2100 GMT 14 March).
Following a direct appeal from the Japanese Government earlier this morning, the British Government will dispatch a team of 59 UK fire service search and rescue specialists, two rescue dogs and a medical support team to join the international relief effort in Japan.
The team will fly from Manchester airport later this afternoon and travel directly to Japan as quickly as possible. On arrival tomorrow, they will immediately join the international search for survivors, providing relief for Japan's own rescue teams.
Read the full press release
This morning International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell met members of the UK's International Search and Rescue (ISAR), just back from New Zealand.
Speaking to the BBC this lunchtime from Birmingham, he said:
"Our hearts go out to all those who are caught up in this dreadful disaster.
"I’ve spent time this morning with members of the British International Search and Rescue Team, who have just returned from Christchurch, where they were working with their Japanese counterparts on helping with the dreadful earthquake in New Zealand, and we have made it absolutely clear that if there is any additional or specialist expert help which we can supply, we will certainly do so.
"Japan has some of the best international search and rescue services anywhere in the world, so that at least is some minor comfort at this terrible time .
"What we’re doing now in the British humanitarian operations room, which has been active on this since very early this morning, is to hope for the best but to plan for the worst. We’re working closely with organisations like the International Red Cross as well as the international organisations which operate through the United Nations."
For more information on the UK's response, please see the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Humanitarian experts from British Government are closely monitoring the impact of the earthquake in Japan and tsunami heading across the Pacific region. We stand ready to respond as necessary.
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@DFID_UK: UK Search & Rescue team arrived near Ofunato in NE #Japan, with team from US. Will begin search at first light: http://ht.ly/4e2yu
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@DFID_UK: RT @David_Stringer: British search dog Byron waits to deploy to #Ofunato to begin #japan #quake rescue mission http://plixi.com/p/83857404
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