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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 May 2007, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Mock plane crash tests NI crews
Emergency exercise
All the emergency services will be involved in the simulated disaster
The UK's "biggest ever" emergency exercise - a mock plane crash - has taken place near Belfast.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were tested as part of a simulated disaster involving 1,200 people.

Three airports, five hospitals and role-playing student nurses also took part in the drill.

Fire Service group commander Peter O'Reilly said the disaster plan exercise was "the biggest ever undertaken in the UK".

"It's everything associated with a crash landing - the fire itself and evacuating people trapped on the plane," he added.

The simulation, which has been 18 months in the planning, centred on a flight carrying 100 passengers leaving George Best Belfast City Airport, bound for City of Derry Airport.

But soon after take-off, a catastrophic failure on board forced the plane to divert to Belfast International for a crash landing. As well as a high number of fatalities, the mock plan included seriously injured casualties.

Up to 150 international observers assessed how the authorities coped under pressure.

The hospitals involved in the plan are Antrim Area, The Mater, Belfast City, The Royal Victoria and the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children.

About 200 trainee nurses from the University of Ulster have volunteered to take part as the injured or their friends and relatives.

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