Rescue SA team to return tonight

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pretoria - The first Rescue South Africa (RSA) team, which was helping with immediate search and rescue operations in the earthquake stricken Haiti, is expected to return home later today.

"We are expecting them between 10pm and 2am," International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Saul Molobi told BuaNews.

The team of 40, which include mainly medical staff and engineers, had taken 10 tons of search and rescue equipment as well as medical supplies on their mission.

Molobi said once the first team was back in the country, government would then send a second team of professionals that will include forensic pathologists to participate in the identification of bodies and provide the survivors with medical assistance and other humanitarian aid.

"We are phasing the aid assistance in three phases, including the immediate search and rescue phase, the identification of bodies where local forensic pathologists will be sent to participate in the identification of bodies

"And the third and last phase will consist of humanitarian aid, in which government will work with non-governmental organisations such as the Gift of the Givers in order to provide humanitarian assistance where possible,' explained Molobi.

Meanwhile, a second rescue team from South African charity organisation Gift of the Givers arrived in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.

The team is led by Durban University of Technology emergency rescue lecturer Sageshin Naguran and consists of six advanced life support paramedics and four doctors, the organisation said.

The first Gift of the Givers team took part with Mexican counterparts' rescuers in the dramatic rescue of a 70-year-old woman earlier this week, seven days after the quake struck. Rescue workers said it was a miracle she had survived.

Although rescuers are still finding survivors, few more are expected. The Haitian government confirmed a death toll of at least 200 000.