Welsh Firefighters Deployed to Morocco Following Tragic Earthquake
Members of the UK-ISAR Team searching for earthquake survivors in the High Atlas Mountains.
Two Welsh International Search and Rescue teams have been deployed to support the response efforts in Morocco following the tragic earthquake on Friday, September 8th.
This week, UK-ISAR (UK International Search and Rescue Team) was deployed to Morocco supporting the response to the tragic earthquake, killing more than 2,000 lives.
Two Welsh ISAR teams are among the 62 strong that are there on the ground, currently helping and supporting with the rescue after being deployed to Morocco through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) have four members from their team – Head of Southern Division Steve Davies, Watch Manager Kevin Morgan based at Earlswood Training Facility, Watch Manager Stephen Fuge of Gorseinon Station and Firefighter Derek Lewis of Neath Station, along with two from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) – Firefighter Alex Bland of Malpas Station and Firefighter Rob Buckley of Ely Station.
Speaking in Morocco, Head of Southern Division, Steve Davies, said:
"We've encountered very challenging conditions, as well as having to travel long distances. After meeting with the local team, we're travelling two to three hours away to a remote village, pushing through any blockages on the way to see if we can enable rescues.
We will continue with our search and rescue work until the local authorities deem the rescue phase to be over. At the moment, our priority is trying to find saveable life."
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:
“The UK Government has sent immediate support to Morocco including a team of 62 search and rescue specialists and four rescue dogs to assist with the rescue effort.
“I remain in contact with Foreign Minister Bourita and offer my deepest sympathies to the people of Morocco after this tragic event."
UK-ISAR is part of the National Fire Chiefs Council’s (NFCC) National Resilience Work and is on permanent standby to mobilise and assist when requested by disaster-affected countries.
National Fire Chiefs Council Chair, Mark Hardingham, said:
“The thoughts of the UK’s fire and rescue services are with all those affected by the devastating earthquake in Morocco.
“A team of specially trained firefighters and medics from the UK has been deployed to assist following a request from the Moroccan government to the British government.
“They will be providing specialist technical support where it is needed most to save lives and support local emergency service teams”.
This is the third time in 2023 that SWFRS and the second that MAWWFRS has deployed Firefighters to a disaster zone:
- In February 2023, a team of 77 UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) experts; three members of SWFRS, Firefighter Luke Davison of Malpas Station, Crew Manager Emma Atcherley of Cardiff Central Station and Firefighter Robert Buckley of Ely Station and two members of MAWWFRS, Head of Southern Division Steve Davies and Watch Manager Phil Irving of Haverfordwest Station, were part of the operation in Turkey.
- In March 2023, a team of 27 UK International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) experts; two members of SWFRS, Station Commander Darren Cleaves and Crew Manager Tristan Bowen had been deployed to Malawi through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy.
The UK-ISAR team responds primarily to overseas urban search and rescue emergencies on behalf of the UK Government.
Any UK-ISAR team deployed is self-sufficient upon arrival and provides its own food, water, shelter, sanitation, communications and all necessary equipment to undertake search and rescue operations for up to 14 days. This is to ensure no additional burden is placed upon a country already suffering demands on its resources following a sudden onset disaster.