On January 26 2001, at 8.46am local time, the Gujarat earthquake devastated western India and parts of Pakistan.
Around 20,000 people were killed, another 167,000 were injured, and nearly 400,000 homes were destroyed.
Now a Morecambe fire fighter has been tasked with helping the Indian people to cope should such a disaster strike again.
Darren Kyle has been chosen as part of a task force of UK firefighters who will travel to India to train their personnel in advanced search and rescue techniques.
They have been invited by the Indian authorities to help local rescue teams improve their skills so they deal with emergency situations more effectively in future.
“Local people were magnificent in the way they responded to the earthquake,” said Darren.
“But it was evident that there was scope for us to support future training.
“Though earthquakes are obviously a natural phenomenon with devastating potential, a lot can be done to minimise the scale of the disaster in terms of loss of life by the speed of the search and rescue response. The first 24 hours are crucial. After that, the prospect of finding people alive under the rubble of collapsed buildings diminishes dramatically as the injuries they have sustained, coupled with thirst and exposure, take their toll. This is where a highly-developed local search and rescue response can prove vital, in advance of the arrival of international rescue teams. I am delighted to be part of this initiative.”
A member of the UK’s International Search and Rescue volunteers, Darren was one of six Lancashire fire fighters who responded to the call for help in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami thatstruck Japan in March 2011.