Fire officer with an acoustic device to be used in the earthquake rescue (Pic: Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service)
The team will take specialist equipment to assist the search for survivors
A 61-strong team of firefighters from across the UK has volunteered to go to Haiti to help with a rescue operation after it was hit by an earthquake.
The 7.0-magnitude quake which hit south of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince is feared to have killed hundreds of people across the Caribbean country.
The team will be taking specialist equipment and two search dogs.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "deeply saddened" by the disaster and pledged whatever support was needed.
Greater Manchester firefighter Peter Stevenson will lead the team of volunteers. He said they would work in two teams to search for survivors.
"One rescue can take between six and 10 hours, depending on the situation and what the building is made from," he said.
"We go totally self-reliant, with several tonnes of equipment so we can work 24 hours a day on at least two separate sites."
The teams will be using heavy breaking equipment, specialist cameras and acoustic listening devices.
We stand ready to provide whatever humanitarian assistance is required
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
The group includes volunteers from Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Sussex, Kent, the West Midlands, Lincolnshire, Hampshire, and mid and west Wales.
The firecrews, who will depart from Gatwick Airport, do not know how long they will have to stay in Haiti but a spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said they would only have a small window of opportunity to try to reach people buried beneath the rubble.
"Some of the officers may have seen this type of devastation before when they have gone to help in other similar situations," Mr Stevenson said.
Mr Brown expressed his sympathy for the victims of the earthquake.
He said: "I am deeply saddened and worried about the reported scale of the earthquake in Haiti.
"I am sending a message of sympathy and support to President Preval and we are sending a team from the Department for International Development to assess the humanitarian needs.
"We stand ready to provide whatever humanitarian assistance is required."
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