In the wake of the recent earthquake in India, a six-man UKMAMS team provided assistance in the deployment of British rescue teams into the region

The team comprised Flt Lt Mark Clulo, FS Paul Sykes, Sgt Pete McHenry, Cpl John Best, SACs Simon Hammond and Sean Walker.

They were called out from standby at 0200 on Sat 27th January with only vague details of the task. By 0400, the RAF Lyneham based team was packed, briefed and on the road to RAF Brize Norton.

On arrival they discovered that the flight was already encountering difficulties and had been delayed pending entry authority from the Indian Government.

Once clearance was received the 216 Sqn Tristar KC1 embarked on a nine hour flight direct to Ahmadabad, the provincial capital.

On board the aircraft was a 49 strong rescue team made up from a mixture of full time rescue firemen, British Government Aid Officials and volunteer rescue workers from the charities International Rescue and RAPID UK.

The team also took specialist search equipment, including listening devices and fibre optic probes.
Despite Ahmadabad being close to the earthquake epicentre, the airport infrastructure was reasonably unaffected. The only visible sign of the impact of the earthquake was the chilling sign of hundreds of funeral pyres on the approach over the city. Once on the ground, the flight encountered further problems when it was discovered that the aircraft handling equipment was not suitable to reach the Tristar’s cargo holds. This meant that the UKMAMS team had to break down the load manually and pass the freight and bags down by hand. Despite this delay, the rescue teams were on the road 1 hour later, heading for Bhuj, which had experienced some of the worst damage in the area.

On the team’s return, Flt Lt Clulo said ‘ it was immensely gratifying for everyone involved to be able to help the rescue teams get to India. The only frustration was not being able to do anymore. The devastating effects of the earthquake had impacted everywhere and the Indian people were extremely thankful that the rest of the world had started to help’