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Andy the Haiti hero

AN Oswaldtwistle fireman came out of retirement to rescue desperate survivors of the Haiti earthquake.

AN Oswaldtwistle fireman came out of retirement to rescue desperate survivors of the Haiti earthquake.

Former Watch Manager Andy Barnes, of Stanhill Lane, Oswaldtwistle flew out to Haiti last Wednesday, with seven other Lancashire firefighters after a massive earthquake reduced the Caribbean island to rubble.

Haitian officials say the death toll from the quake is likely to be between 100,000 and 200,000, and that 75,000 bodies have already been buried in mass graves.

Mr Barnes, who went out to Haiti as part of the UK International Search and Rescue Team, was due back this weekend but following a third earthquake tremor on Wednesday causing yet more causalities, his trip has had to be extended.

During his time in the devastated country the father-of-one has been instrumental in helping save the lives of at least four people, including a two-year-old little girl called Mia.

All the time she was missing her mother maintained a vigil by the building, desperately praying that she would see her daughter again.

The brave toddler had to be pulled out of the rubble by her pigtails, after spending more than three days under the wreckage of her nursery.

Mr Barnes’ wife, Pam said: "We are so proud of Andy, he is such a caring person. He helped to pull the two-year-old little girl called Mia to safety.

"I think getting out the survivors is really spurring them on.

"Since they arrived on Friday, they have managed to save Mia, a 65-year-old gentleman on Saturday, a 60-year-old man who had been trapped for four days and a 40-year-old woman on Sunday.

"The team are doing really well but as you can imagine they are tired because the conditions are so bad.

"They have only managed to have one shower and hot meal since they have been out there."

Mr Barnes, 52, retired as Watch Manager at Pennine HQ Fire Station a year-ago after 30 years service.

But despite retiring Mr Barnes, who has previously travelled to the Ukraine on a rescue mission was asked to remain on the international rescue team.

His team, who are based in the capital Port-au-Prince are sleeping in tents at the UN compound at the airport and carrying out their life-saving work in daylight under armed guard because of civil unrest.

The situation has recently become worse after the island’s main prison collapsed and lootings by gangs hunting for food became widespread.

Mrs Barnes added: "All I am concentrating on now is getting Andy back safe and sound.

"The whole team are very professional and they would do nothing to put themselves in danger, but will all these extra tremors you can’t help but worry. I get an update every day from the Fire Headquarters which is reassuring."

Andy is one of 61 British rescue personnel who have been working to find survivors.

The team, who were delayed by around two days in reaching the island because of a back-log at the country's airport.

The Distasters Emergency Committee has set up a relief fund to raise money to help the victims of the quake.

Donations to the DEC Haiti appeal can be made by calling 0370 60 60 900, through the website www.dec.org.uk or over the counter at any post office or high street bank, quoting Freepay 1449.

Cheques payable to DEC Haiti Earthquake can also been sent to PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA.

 

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