British search and rescue workers in Japan say they “remain optimistic” they will find survivors in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
A 63-strong team of UK search and rescue workers is racing to clear debris and find hundreds of people still missing in Japan’s disaster zones.
The British rescuers are working with US teams and sniffer dogs in the northern town of Ofunato.
Alan Blatchford, who is coordinating the UK team in Japan, says it remains in the search and rescue phase and “isn’t giving up hope”.
“The team hasn’t yet found any survivors. But we remain hopeful that we will be able to rescue somebody,” Mr Blatchford said.
“The team hasn’t yet found any survivors. But we remain hopeful that we will be able to rescue somebody.” – Alan Blatchford, Coordinator for Hampshire fire and rescue
“There’s been ocasions in the past where four, five or even six days later we’ve found survivors.”
He said the team – some of whom were involved in operations in the quake zones of Haiti and Christchurch – would use whatever means necessary to rescue survivors.
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Mr Blatchford told Channel 4 News that conditions are being monitored carefully to ensure workers are safe.
“We’re risk assessing that on an hourly basis. At the moment they’re working far away enough. Ofunato is 185 km north of the affected nuclear plant.
“Everyone in the team is carrying an electronic device that will alarm if radiation levels start to rise.”
Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development has paid tribute to the workers involved.
“We are all proud of the UK’s search and rescue experts, who are doing a great job under tough conditions.
“They are working alongside Japanese colleagues to give much-needed help and support to that country in its time of dire need.”
“They are working alongside Japanese colleagues to give much-needed help and support to that country in its time of dire need.” -Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development
“Given the scale of the disaster here, while we have no confirmed British casualties as yet, we must be prepared to hear news of them,” Mr Warren said.
“It is still very early days in terms of clarifying the total numbers of people who may have died.”
The Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and the north-east of Japan.
UK nationals are being asked to confirm their safety by contacting the FCO on +44 (0)20 7008 0000.