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Rescuers not giving up

August 30, 2007

lookin.jpeg Attorney-General and Minister of Home Affairs, Dale Marshall, laid out a comprehensive plan of action for a resumption of recovery operations yesterday, as the search for the five bodies buried under the rubble of the Arch Cot Terrace apartment building continued.

With the media authorised to enter the upper level of the 100-foot deep cavern yesterday morning, the gaping orifice displayed the glaring extent of the challenge ahead for the recovery team.

Marshall, who was accepting of the task ahead, but confident in the abilities of the team to make headway in their operations, said: We have had challenges along the way. Every couple of hours, something new presents itself. We have to pause, do a reassessment and determine whether we continue on that track or whether we deviate somewhat, and that has been a constant feature & but I dont think you could have seen a better effort than this.

Head of the Emergency Specialist Services, Dr. Brian Charles, also offered his perspective. He outlined the implications for the team of men charged with recovering the bodies, particularly the instability of the area of the cavern, which presents some difficulties for the personnel attempting to trawl through debris in the search for the five missing bodies buried under the collapsed apartments since Sunday morning.

Of utmost importance to Charles was a recovery of the bodies, which minimises any risk of dismemberment and ensures the public health aspects.

Closure is the main focus for all involved, not least of which the family, who continue their vigil for their trapped family members. Yesterday morning, the father of the trapped woman, Cassandra Codrington, kept a presence at the site, displaying a calm composure on the surface but undoubtedly torn inside as the uncertainty of the fate of the family prevails.

Marshall, indicated the external factors which also present further potential problems – the weather being a continuing worry with any rainfall causing lubrication and loosening of the rock and other matter, with disastrous repercussions for the rescue efforts. In the likelihood of this, Marshall noted contingency plans which would require pulling out workers from the rescue mission thus ensuring their safety.

Gratitude was extended by Marshall to all those involved in the efforts to recover the bodies with particular mention of the private sector: Where we are now, I dont think we would have been able to achieve this level of progress without the involvement by the private sector. Essentially, we had the benefit of people coming in to offer advice. They knew it was a national effort and a national emergency.

With no question of stopping the efforts, the full scale of the capacity of the team to expedite the recovery of the bodies was mentioned with a reference to the team as being as multitalented a team as you can ever want.

With the growing eventuality of equipment failure with stresses put upon them over the past four days, Marshall highlighted plans to bring in additional support equipment with a gearing up of efforts rather than a gearing down.

In a further unequivocal statement of the fervent efforts to recover the bodies, Marshall said, theres no question of us halting operations. Were going to explore options until there are no more options to be explored, with indications yesterday that efforts would continue beyond the hours of last night.

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