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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 19:06 GMT
Firefighters visit quake victim's family
Gavin Sexton
Gavin Sexton had wrapped-up presents for family in his rucksack
Colleagues of a former firefighter killed in the Iranian earthquake have passed on his personal belongings to his parents after recovering them from the rubble of his guesthouse.

The body of Gavin Sexton, 36, was discovered in the collapsed hotel in Bam on Sunday by two firefighters from North Wales hunting for survivors as part of the international rescue effort.

Seven firefighters from Hampshire visited his family soon after flying back to Britain on Wednesday.

Mr Sexton had served with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for 12 years until August, when he quit his job to travel the world.

Divisional officer Peter Crook, who was his boss at fire stations in Southsea and Southampton, said he had a tearful visit with his former colleague's parents, Alan and Ann, at their home in Marchwood, Southampton.

Members of the UK rescue team
The Hampshire team were told Mr Sexton died in a sleeping position
The Hampshire team had discovered Mr Sexton's rucksack at his guesthouse, containing wrapped-up presents for his family, photographs and undeveloped films, as well as a map marking the route of his final motorcycle journey from Nepal through India and Pakistan to Iran.

Mr Crook said: "We were delighted to be able to be the ones to find his belongings and return them to his family.

"It was a remarkable coincidence that we should have been the ones out there.

"I was not emotional while out there but I did shed a tear with the family this morning.

"I feel we were able to give his family some reassurance as we were able to confirm that he died quickly and painlessly.

"We were able to identify the spot where he died and we were told he was found in the sleeping position with the blankets round him.

"He probably didn't know what had happened."

The Iranian authorities say the earthquake has killed up to 50,000 people and left 100,000 homeless.

Most of the victims have been buried in mass graves and Mr Sexton's final resting place is still unknown.




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