Britain, France in mid-Channel rescue drill

21st September 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Sept 21 (AFP) - Emergency services from both sides of the busy English Channel tackled a simulated maritime disaster Tuesday, in a seaborne display of Anglo-French cooperation.

LONDON, Sept 21 (AFP) - Emergency services from both sides of the busy English Channel tackled a simulated maritime disaster Tuesday, in a seaborne display of Anglo-French cooperation.  

Coastguard and rescue crews converged in the Dover Strait for the major exercise, which is being held to mark 100 years of the Entente Cordiale that ended decades of global rivalry between Britain and France.  

Watched by government ministers from both countries, the teams - including an Royal Air Force helicopter and Dover Coastguard as well as lifeboats from Dunkerque and Boulogne - worked to deal with a scenario where two ships had collided and caught fire.  

Coordinators at the coastguard headquarters near Dover tested their colleagues by adding further complications such as a pollution spill from one of the stricken ships, and a search for missing persons.  

Speaking from the observation tower, British Shipping Minister David Jamieson, said: "This is an example of working together with the French for something which is very strongly in our joint interest."  

A theoretical exercise, known as Manchex, was held every year, but they had decided to stage a "live" operation in recognition of the centenary, said Jamieson.  

"This exercise is really a repeat of what's happening every day on one of the busiest and most dangerous sea lanes in the world," he said.  

"There are around 300 vessels using this stretch every day. It is vital that we have this kind of cooperation."  

France's maritime minister Francois Goulard said cooperation between the two states was "strong" and "still developing".  

"We have a long-lasting tradition between Britain and France," he added.  

A spokesman for the Dover Coastguard station said Tuesday's exercise had taken 11 months to plan. It also involved firefighters from southeast England plus French paramedics and aircraft. More than 100 people took part.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article