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Saturday, 3 February, 2001, 16:36 GMT
Quake aid flights leave UK
Relief workers in Gujarat
Relief workers in Gujarat await British aid
Two flights carrying nearly 50 tonnes of aid have left the UK bound for earthquake-stricken Gujarat.

Members of Hindu temples in the UK also flew out on Saturday morning on the British Airways aircraft carrying tents, clothes, blankets and medical supplies.

The volunteer crew included the pilot, Captain Minesh Patel, who has relatives missing in the disaster zone.

We knew there was someone in the building and it's impossible to explain how you feel when you think there's a real chance you can get the person out

Rab Barrie
International Rescue Corps
Virgin Airways is carrying 10 tonnes of medical supplies and also hopes to send an inflatable hospital.

British rescue workers arrived back home in the UK on Friday night after a week searching for survivors.

And one rescue leader attacked the effect of antiquated UK quarantine laws on specialist rescue dogs.

The UK team of 69 rescuers had been sent to the quake zone in the western state Gujarat within 24 hours of the disaster.

The specialists succeeded in rescuing five women, a man and a seven-year-old boy from the rubble of collapsed buildings where thousands died.

The UK public has donated more than 3m to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, launched on Thursday on behalf of 14 aid organisations.

Specialist rescue

Emotional families at Manchester airport on Friday gave the returning rescuers a hero's welcome.

The group included 39 firefighters form Cheshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire as well as 12 Scottish and five English members of the International Rescue Corps.

They had been joined by 11 members of Rapid UK and two representatives of the Department for International Development's emergency response team, who co-ordinated the mission.

An animal which has been in quarantine for six months cannot just go back into the field - some are traumatised by the break from their partner and others need a refresher course before returning to duty

John Miller
Rapid UK
Rab Barrie, of the Scotland-based International Rescue Corps (IRC), described the incredible feeling of helping rescue someone from the rubble.

He said: "We knew it was a man who'd been in there for 100 hours and when we got him out he was completely uninjured.

"He even came back later after being checked out to help look for members of his family."

Firefighter Steve Forshaw, of Stockport, Greater Manchester, told how he and his colleagues rescued a woman and a seven-year-old boy who were trapped for two days beneath several feet of rubble.

Unexpected departure

"Our lights shone on him, and his face lit up. His morale was so strong, even after being trapped for two days."

Returning from his first rescue mission with Rapid UK was father-of-two Andy Harris.

His departure for Gujarat had been so unexpected he told his wife he was "nipping out for a few hours".

Sarah Cox
Radio DJ Sarah Cox is backing the appeal
Rapid UK team leader John Miller said life-saving rescue dogs specially trained by the group were not being taken on urgent missions because of the UK's quarantine laws.

"It means that in many circumstances a dog can only be used for one week in the year which is ridiculous in this day and age."

"When we return from the parts of the world where we tend to operate they have to go into quarantine for six months.

Dogs traumatised

"But an animal which has been in quarantine for six months cannot just go back into the field."

Two British men are known to have died in the earthquake.

People can donate to the official appeal on or phone 0870 6060 900 or take cheques made payable to DEC India Earthquake Appeal to post offices and major banks.

The Foreign Office has issued emergency numbers for worried relatives: 020 7008 0000 and 020 7839 1010

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See also:

02 Feb 01 | UK
Quake appeal raises 3m
31 Jan 01 | South Asia
Disease risks
30 Jan 01 | South Asia
Aid effort switches to survivors
30 Jan 01 | Media reports
Press faults quake relief effort
01 Feb 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Aid operation in Gujarat
03 Feb 01 | South Asia
Gujarat rocked by new tremor
03 Feb 01 | South Asia
India acts over quake chaos
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