Firefighters to return from quake rescue

Portsmouth Labour leader backs plan for four more bank holidays

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NINE Hampshire firefighters who flew to New Zealand following the catastrophic earthquake are set to return home.

Group manager Peter Crook, from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, has been leading the United Kingdom International Search and Rescue team – known as UKISAR – of 61 personnel from across the UK.

The rescue mission in devastated Christchurch has been officially declared over, with a confirmed 161 fatalities although that figure is expected to rise.

Seventy people have been rescued alive from collapsed buildings but around 50 people are still missing, presumed dead.

The UKISAR commander confirmed a total of 13 victims were recovered, while searching for survivors.

The team’s work focused on the Central Business District – which was worst hit – Lyttleton and Sumner.

They removed the rubble from the badly hit Pyne Gould Corporation building, layer by layer.

Seven of the Hampshire firefighters are scheduled to arrive mid-morning on Tuesday.

The remaining two are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday in the early evening.

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