84 Squadron joins forces with emergency services in Cyprus for simulated earthquake response

Watch: Military readiness put to the test in routine earthquake simulation in Cyprus.

British Forces based across Cyprus have been testing how they would respond in the event of a large earthquake.

The island sits on the junction of an active seismic zone, making routine training like this, essential.

1 Royal Anglian based in Dhekelia and 84 Squadron based in RAF Akrotiri, have been carrying out a routine earthquake simulation exercise to test their readiness in the event of such a natural disaster.

The risks of earthquakes on the Mediterranean island are relatively high as it sits on an active seismic zone where it is estimated that 15% of the world's earthquakes occur – Cyprus' most recent was in January 2022 and measured 6.6 on the Richter scale.

Exercise coordinator WO1 (RSM) Richard Dowds says "given the risk of earthquakes on the island" the simulations need to be "run out more often", focusing on crisis management in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, and involving the British military's last remaining search and rescue unit, 84 Squadron.

"There is a real risk there, but the only exercise is the crisis management in the event of an earthquake," he said.

"And that is how we're going to deal with it, with limited numbers, because we're going to have to assume that we're going to be cut off and no-one's going to come in the first 24 to 48 hours."

The response involves units from across the island, including ambulance, fire services and police departments.

Earthquake simulation exercise in Cyprus
84 Squadron work with emergency services during an earthquake simulation exercise in Cyprus.

One scenario played out in the simulation is the rescue of a victim from a tall structure.

"Our role today was to take people off towers, but we're working with ambulance crews, fire crews, that we've never worked before with before," said Master Aircrew Dan Whittington, of 84 Squadron, which had just an hour's notice to move.

"So just having that cohesion with teams from across Cyprus was really helpful," he added.

The exercise saw emergency response teams come together from across the island, having to deal with language barriers in a time-sensitive situation.

"We managed to put everything together much faster on this one, so proves the point why we should be training," said Neophytos Neophytou, manager of Ayios Nikolaos fire station.

The exercise was planned before the recent devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Cyprus has seen three earthquakes of a magnitude six or above since 1900, although it has not seen any fatalities in the last 30 years, recent events in Turkey and Syria have been a stark reminder of what could happen.

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