The foreign minister of Iceland, Mr Ossur Skarphedinsson, has decided to deploy the Icelandic International Search and Rescue Team to Haiti to participate in rescue efforts after an earthquake hit south of Port-au-Prince yesterday. The team is a highly trained group of 37 search and rescue specialists. They will leave from Iceland at 10AM GMT today and are expected to arrive in Haiti around 4PM local time. This should make them among the first international rescue teams to reach Haiti.
The team is fully equipped and self sufficient for up to seven days in the field, bringing with them 10 metric tonnes of their own tools and equipment, three tonnes of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability.
The Icelandic International Search and Rescue team has extensive experience in rescue operations following serious earthquakes, for example in Turkey and Morocco. It is an INSARAG (International Search and Rescue Advisory Group of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA) certified medium urban search and rescue team.
The foreign minister followed preparations closely and visited the team’s headquarters prior to deployment. Foreign ministry officials have also coordinated with the Haitian authorities, which have welcomed the swift response from Iceland.