At 16:53 (21:53 GMT) on Tuesday 12 January a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti with the epicentre 15km South West of the capital Port Au Prince. The earthquake occurred at a very shallow depth of 6.2km and the result was extensive damage throughout many areas of Haiti. 8. Although UK ISAR initiated an early mobilisation, attendance in Haiti was hampered by the closure of Gatwick airport due to severe weather, with further delays experienced due to Port Au Prince airport experiencing damage and was therefore closed during darkness hours.
Additionally, the Haitian Government quickly agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the US which led to the US Military taking control of the airfield. 9. The UK ISAR team only arrived in Port Au Prince during 13 and 14 January due to logistical problems with securing an aircraft in the Dominican Republic. Once in situ a Base of Operations was set up at Toussaint L’ouverture airport, with the team commencing search and rescue operations immediately having liaised with the Local Emergency Management Agencies, which was being coordinated by the On Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC). 10.
A record number (62) of International Search and Rescue teams along with 150+ search and rescue canines were involved in rescue operations and UK ISAR worked alongside many international teams. UK ISAR is held in very high regard by the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (UN INSARAG) due to its current classification and members experience and skills. For this reason the UK Team was utilised for various search and rescue tasks that could not be delegated to other teams e.g. search and rescue in high risk security areas. 11. The UK ISAR was the first team to be deployed to two previously unsearched towns in Haiti i.e. Leogane and Petit Goave; the latter being the epicentre of a second earthquake occurring on 20 January.