England

West Midlands firefighters begin work in Christchurch

Firefighters from the West Midlands have arrived in New Zealand and begun search and rescue work following the recent earthquake.

The team of seven have joined volunteers from nine other brigades in Christchurch, where about 200 people are thought to be missing.

A 6.3 magnitute earthquake struck the city on Tuesday afternoon.

The search is being co-ordinated at West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service's headquarters in Birmingham.

Team leader Paul Burnham said the firefighters were working at a building with "considerable damage".

"But we have some very good and robust safety systems in place , the training has kicked in and the rescue teams are working as we speak," he said.

Earlier, Vij Randeniya, West Midlands Fire Service's chief fire officer, said the team were amongst the finest trained firefighters in the world.

"They will be able to operate independently for 10 days in New Zealand," he said.

The team includes firefighter Sean Moore from Canley station in Coventry, and Jim McParland of Kinver, Staffordshire.

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