79 dead and 77 injured
Flight from London Heathrow crashes in south of Gran Canaria while coming into land.
British Consulate welcomes successful crisis exercise involving military authorities and local emergency services.
The British Consulate has welcomed a successful crisis exercise involving the military authorities and local emergency services as evidence of their ‘impressive capability’ to deal with a major disaster.
The crisis exercise was organised by CANASAR (Servicio de Busqueda y Salvamento Aéreo) – Search & Rescue Service of the Spanish air force and involved the expertise of the CECOES 112 (Centro de Coordinación de Emergencias y Seguridad) – Emergency and Security Centre and SUC (Servicio de Urgencias Canario) – Canarian Emergency Ambulance Service.
The call made at 08.48hrs on 6th June by CANASAR to 112 put the wheels in motion for the operation, involving a plane carrying 150 passengers and six crew.
Air force rescue teams were put to the test and the spotlight was on the coordination abilities of CECOES 112. Policia Nacional, Guardia Civil, emergency medical personnel and volunteers were all involved in the search and rescue operation. 59 injured passengers were treated in two makeshift hospitals, of which 41 were transferred by ambulances to various medical centres in the south of the island. 18 critical cases were airlifted by helicopter to the Hospital Dr. Negrín in Las Palmas and the remaining 18 victims were treated on site.
British Vice Consul for the Province of Las Palmas, Esther Martín, said, “I was very fortunate to witness the impressive resource capability displayed by local authorities and volunteers. It served to reinforce our confidence that local authorities can withstand the effects of a major crisis and are fully capable of responding effectively and decisively. The close working relationship that the British consulate has with local emergency services gives us the opportunity to participate in events of this nature, allowing us to gain experience so that we can assist British nationals in a real crisis.”
In 2011, Consular staff in Las Palmas carried out a joint crisis exercise with CECOES 112, in which the scenario involved a hotel fire. Similar exercises are organised by SAR on different Canary islands every year.
In recent years, there have been many incidents such as forest and hotel fires that have directly or indirectly affected British nationals. Around 300 British nationals were affected by the forest fires on the island of La Palma in 2009. Staff from both British consulates in the Canaries worked alongside local emergency services, authorities and tour operators to ensure the safety of those affected.