Hampshire firefighters in Balkan rescue mission

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Two Hampshire firefighters have flown to the Balkans to assist with a pan-European relief effort after parts of the region suffered the worst flooding in their history.

States of emergency have been declared in areas of Serbia and Bosnia, with rivers bursting banks and landslides burying homes. Three people are known to have died so far and thousands of residents are stranded.

Hampshire’s Graham Libby and Robin Bates flew to Belgrade early this morning (May 17) as part of the UK’s 33-man International Search and Rescue (ISAR) team.

Graham and Robin, who form part of Hampshire’s Eastleigh based Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team, will run the Base of Operations in the Balkans, providing food, water and tented accommodation, for the water rescue crews.

The UK team has been mobilised by the Government’s Civil Contingencies Secretariat following a request for international mutual support, made via the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

Firefighters from Cheshire, Manchester, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, West Sussex and the West Midlands will join the Hampshire contingent on the seven-day mission.

Rescuers in Serbia say they have so far managed to to evacuate around 4,000 people.