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The BBC's Willie Johnston reports
"To help deal with the carcass disposal, a pyre has been created"
 real 56k

The BBC's Willie Johnston reports
"The process will intensify as the week progresses"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 March, 2001, 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK
Soldiers tackle cull ordeal
Soldier oversees foot-and-mouth exercise
The Army has brought a central focus to the offensive
Soldiers have been facing the "distressing" task of co-ordinating the mass cull and burial of animals infected with foot-and-mouth.

As the disease continues to grip the country, an Army spokesman said personnel accepted they had a tough job to do and were keenly aware of the heartbreak faced by farmers.

The spread of the disease threatens to eradicate 135 years of cattle at one Scottish farm, as fears exist the outbreak may have travelled west of Dumfries.

The Scottish National Farmers Union said it was important to deal with confirmed cases and subsequent slaughters as quickly as possible.

Confirmed farms in Scotland include
88 cases on 26 March
Lockerbie (13 cases)
Canonbie (12)
Gretna (17)
Lochmaben(4)
Twynholm
Langholm
Beattock(4)
Corrie
Ruthwell(5)
Tundergarth
Moffat
Dalton(2)
Torthorward
Mouswald(6)
Hightae(3)
Kirtlebridge(2)
Creca
Collin(2)
Kirkpatrick Fleming(2)
Annan (3)
Troqueer
New Abbey(2)
Haugh of Urr
St Anns
Eastriggs
Sergeant Major John Beck told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland that army personnel had not received training for the type of tasks they were being asked to carry out.

He said: "It's very distressing for the soldiers who have never seen this type of thing before. Though not as distressing for us as it is for the farmers."

Army teams have been drafted in to co-ordinate the disposal of carcasses in Dumfriesshire.

Lft Colonel Ian Pickard, of the 52 Lowland Regiment, said the Army had been drafted in to carry out important logistical tasks.

"So far what we've done is two things really. We've established a command and control centre here in the bunker in order to co-ordinate the various agencies involved to assist the Scottish Executive and Maff," he said.

"The second thing we have done is to deploy on the ground teams of warrant officers to assist at the cull sites. They co-ordinate the various agencies involved such as vets, the slaughterers, those who take the carcasses away, to provide a central focus."

Up to 100 additional soldiers and 10 slaughter teams are expected to arrive this week to deal with the crisis.

Historic slaughter

Local NFU chairman David Austin said the emphasis was firmly placed on acting quickly and effectively.

He said: "Once a farm is confirmed we have got to get to a situation where sheep within the 3km around are slaughtered.

"This has to be done in a short period of time."

The disease has shown signs of spreading to the west of Dumfries. It was pinpointed on Saturday on one of four farms operated by a family with reputedly the oldest Galloway cattle herd in the world.

All cattle on the Biggar family's four farms near Castle Douglas will be slaughtered.

Breed society spokesman Alex McDonald said: "The Biggars have been involved in the Galloway cattle society since it was set up in 1877.

"And of course they continue to the present day. So we are talking about losing something like 130-135 years of pedigree cattle."

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See also:

23 Mar 01 | Scotland
Army drafted in to help with cull
25 Mar 01 | Scotland
Rare breeds slaughter protest
22 Mar 01 | Scotland
Crisis jobs toll rises
22 Mar 01 | Scotland
Army to assist with slaughter
19 Mar 01 | Scotland
Farms complete first cull
15 Mar 01 | Scotland
Foot-and-mouth 'could cost 20m'
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