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The BBC's Rebecca Jones
"Many people are relying on the foreign office for news"
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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 10:06 GMT
British rescuers save survivors
British members of the International Rescue Corp in Bhuj
A British team is helping search for survivors in Bhuj
British rescuers have pulled three survivors from the rubble of the Indian earthquake.

Within hours of the rescue team arriving in the city of Bhuj they had already begun to free survivors from collapsed buildings.

And teams are due to work through the night on a collapsed block of flats where up to150 people are thought to be buried, said a spokesman for the British international rescue team Rapid UK.

Time is something these people don't have so we are trying to work flat out until we are too tired

Rescue team leader Ray Gray

The UK Fire Service rescued a seven-year-old boy and his mother from the wreckage of a tower block in Bhuj, two days after the earthquake hit the state of Gujarat.

They are now working to free another person.

With more than 6,000 confirmed dead and Indian authorities saying the toll could reach 20,000, rescue workers are mostly finding bodies under piles of concrete and masonry.

Searching for bodies in Bhuj
Bodies are being found under collapsed concrete
But the 69-strong British team found their first survivor three hours after their arrival when they pulled a woman from the rubble.

An International Rescue Corps spokesman said these successes were giving the British team impetus.

"It is encouraging them and means they are absolutely driven and motivated to find more people alive," he said.

The rescue team includes members of the UK Fire Service, the International Rescue Corps (IRC) and Pathfinders.

Search continues

Sikh soldiers using screwdrivers to clear rubble also pulled a woman alive from a building in Bhuj after she had been trapped for 56 hours.

Ray Gray, a team leader for the IRC in the city, said rescue attempts continued with fibre optic cameras and sound detection equipment, despite aftershocks.

"Time is something these people don't have so we are trying to work flat out until we are too tired," he said.

Ashok Nathwani
Mr Nathwani was to attend a medical conference
A British doctor has now been confirmed as one of the earthquake's victims.

Ashok Nathwani, a Hampshire-based consultant community paediatrician, had gone to India to scatter his mother's ashes.

The father-of-two, who was also due to attend a medical conference, was trapped in a building in Ahmedabad.

His wife, Chhaya, flew to India on Saturday night with one of her two sons.

A spokeswoman for the Portsmouth Health Care NHS Trust said: "It is awful. He was a lovely man and he is going to be really missed - he had such a way with the kids."

Dr Nathwani, who was in his early 40s and had sons aged 15 and six, specialised in childhood immunology and vaccination and childhood surveillance in the Gosport and Portsmouth areas.

Appeals launched

Fundraising is already under way for the thousands of people left homeless and hungry.

The UK Government has pledged 3m to provide emergency assistance.

International Development Secretary Clare Short told BBC Radio 4's World This Weekend:" It will be got through to people on the ground."

Appeals have been launched by The International Red Cross and the Indian Red Cross and the largest Indian charity in the UK, Seva International.

Thousands of survivors will have to start all over again

Swami Nirliptananda
The Hindu temple in Neasden, north-west London, has many devotees with relatives in Gujarat.

A temple spokesman said its Indian headquarters had about 200 volunteers feeding 20,000 people in food kitchens in the disaster zone.

Another leading Hindu organisation, the Sevashram Community, in Shepherd's Bush, London, has also launched an appeal.

Its head, Swami Nirliptananda, said: "Cattle, crops and lives have all been destroyed. Thousands of survivors will have to start all over again."

The Foreign Office has two helpline numbers - 020 7008 0000 and 020 78391010 - for those worried about relatives.

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See also:

28 Jan 01 | South Asia
India aid effort struggles to cope
28 Jan 01 | South Asia
Crucial day for quake rescue
28 Jan 01 | South Asia
India tragedy dwarfs rescue efforts
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