Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 14:43 UK

UK search team join China effort

Buildings destroyed by the quake
Thousands of people are believed to be buried under the rubble

Ten UK search and rescue volunteers have flown to China to help in the aftermath of a massive earthquake which has killed nearly 15,000.

The International Rescue Corps team have arrived in Hong Kong with specialist search equipment.

They will now arrange visas and helicopters to take them to the worst affected area.

Chinese authorities have sent 50,000 troops to Sichuan province to search for survivors and distribute aid.

Equipment

First reports from the quake's epicentre in Sichuan suggest the number of dead could be higher than feared.

Local officials from Yingxiu, in Wenchuan County, said the devastation was worse than expected, as roads were blocked and children buried in debris.

We've heard a rumour that another group saw Liz's group at the reserve before the quake struck, but we can't take that as a reassurance

IRC spokesman Julie Ryan said the searchers were taking a camera system to visually search in the rubble for survivors; a sound listening device to listen for buried people, and a CO2 detector which can find people who are unconscious but still breathing.

She was not yet clear where exactly the team would be sent, as it depended on "where and when they are needed".

"We're led to believe there will be no problems with visas, and we'll stay as long as we are needed," she added.

The IRC volunteers come from Scotland, Cumbria, East Yorkshire, Merseyside and Norfolk.

Poor weather has continued to hamper aid efforts, and rescuers have been forced to trek to areas cut off by the quake damage and search through the rubble with their bare hands.


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