NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Grampian firefighters to join New Zealand quake rescue

New Zealand rescue teams with a casualty
Image caption The team is flying out to help with the New Zealand rescue operation

Scots firefighters are to join the rescue effort in New Zealand after an earthquake hit Christchurch, killing at least 65 people.

The Grampian Fire and Rescue service personnel are members of the UK International Search and Rescue (UK-ISAR) team.

The team was alerted by the UK government following an official request for help from New Zealand.

Eleven Grampian firefighters are members of UK-ISAR.

They are immunized, trained and equipped to respond at short notice to incidents abroad.

In October 2005, Grampian fire crew were involved in rescue efforts following a massive earthquake which hit Islamabad, in Pakistan.

New Zealand's prime minister said at least 65 people had died after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch.

John Key said the toll was expected to rise further, adding: "We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day."

The tremor caused widespread damage as it occurred at a shallow depth of 5km (3.1 miles) during lunchtime when Christchurch was at its busiest.

The mayor of New Zealand's second-biggest city said 120 people had been rescued from the ruins.

The country's deadliest natural disaster in 80 years struck at 1251 local time (2351 GMT on Monday), 10km (6.2 miles) south east of the city.

The damage was said to be far worse than after the 7.1-magnitude quake on 4 September, which left two people seriously injured but no fatalities.

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