Huge disaster exercise on Merseyside

Part of Merseyside will be transformed into an earthquake zone today as the UK's biggest ever disaster exercise gets underway.

40 cars have been piled up in one of the disused Mersey tunnels and the exercise will take place over the next two days.

Firefighters from across the region are expected to be drafted in to take part in the training.

100 firefighters, 23 fire engines, 5 helicopters and 7 urban search and rescue teams will begin the exercise.

Eventually 200 firefighters will be involved with 100 search and rescue staff.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service are leading the UK's North training, with their colleagues in Hampshire heading it up in the South.

Teams from Wales and Greater Manchester will be drafted in to the simulation in Birkenhead and Liverpool.

The two scenarios - a huge car crash in the Birkenhead tunnel and an urban disaster in Liverpool - are designed to reflect the aftermath of a major earthquake.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens said:

"The scale of the exercise makes it wholly unique in the way it will test the resilience of our fire crews and we want to ensure the scenario is as realistic as possible.

"(We are using) five make up artists to work on the casualties to create a greater sense of realism for the crews involved."

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