Men and dog rescuers trained in Wales go to Japan

Japanese rescue team
Image caption Firefighters from the UK are joining Japanese rescue teams

Seven fire fighters and four rescue dogs are part of Wales' contribution to the rescue efforts in the Japan.

Mid and West Wales Fire Service said seven volunteers are working alongside the military in a town which has been hit by both the earthquake and tsunami.

Meanwhile, four dogs trained in Wales in for rescue work then given to the fire service in Malaysia have been taken by their new owners to Japan.

They include Jet, a black labrador, found as a stray in Gwynedd.

The seven Welsh firefighters flew out to Japan on Saturday evening.

They are there as part of the international search and rescue operation, with 62 going from Britain all together.

The team are currently at a military base in the north of the country waiting to be deployed.

Fire service spokesman Jim Cameron said the team would help to search collapsed buildings and liaise with other agencies at the scene as to how best release people.

Image caption Jet started a new life in Malaysia as a rescue dog and has since been sent to help in Japan

He said: "The whole structure is set up in such a way that they are working with the local military services that are still functioning.

"Our team is going a town with a population of about 42,000 people. It's been hit by the earthquake and also the tsunami, but it's felt that that's the place where they can make the greatest efforts and save the most lives, hopefully.

"There's always hope. I think our crews will be pushing themselves on the basis that there's always hope.

"They will keep working until the decision is made by the authorities that we're now moving into the recovery phase."

As the team were heading to Japan, it emerged that four dogs trained at the International Rescue Training Centre (IRTCW) at Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd, were also to help as part of the international rescue effort.

The dogs are among six sent to Malaysia in November by the centre.

'Quarantine laws'

IRTCW managing director, David Jones said: "It's reassuring to know that four of the dogs we supplied the Malaysian fire search and rescue are already going to do what they do best.

"In doing so, they are freeing up dogs and handlers from the UK having to suffer all the quarantine laws, putting the dogs out of action for a minimum of six months."

The dogs include Jet, who was picked up as stray but passed his test to be a disaster search dog with flying colours.

First Minister Carwyn Jones lent his support to the rescue mission: "The response of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel has been selfless and swift.

"This specialised response team has once again been called upon to provide humanitarian assistance and recovery in the wake of another unfortunate global emergency and I have the utmost faith that they will carry out this task with the highest levels of skill, dignity and professionalism.

"Our thoughts and prayers now go out to these brave servicemen and women and their families for a safe return, as well as to the millions of people still affected by this disaster in Japan."

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