The UK has sent a team of sixty-one firefighters and medics in response to a request for help from the New Zealand government.
An advanced party of six – including Jon Lacey from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service – arrived in Christchurch at 5am Thursday morning local time and were immediately briefed at the base of operations set up for international rescue teams.
The remainder of the UK team, including firefighters from Worthing, Shoreham and Steyning, have landed in Auckland with their equipment and are being flown urgently to Christchurch to relieve rescue teams that have been working non-stop since the earthquake struck on Monday.
Hope is fading of finding further survivors but search and rescue operations are expected to continue for at least another 24 hours.
The focus is on ten collapsed buildings where people are reported trapped.
The West Sussex firefighters are from the WSFRS Technical Rescue Unit, based at Horley Fire Station.
The team includes Ian Smith and Brian Vincent from Worthing, Peter Thorpe-Hincks from Steyning, Neil Graham from Shoreham, and Rob Negus, from Hove.