British rescue workers shock at learning former colleague was among those killed
Scotsman - By John Innes
Dec 30, 2003
A BRITISH former firefighter who died in the Iranian earthquake was pulled from the rubble by UK rescue workers on Sunday and quickly buried, it was revealed yesterday.
Gavin Sexton, from Southampton, quit his job to travel round the world. The 36-year-old left Britain last August for his year-long trip and had bought a motorbike in Asia to bring home.
Due to the huge number of dead being recovered from the ruins of the city, Mr Sexton was buried immediately by the Iranian authorities.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said the local authorities decided "to bury all the bodies for public health reasons".
A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said Mr Sextons body was discovered among the debris by British rescue workers on Sunday. His next of kin have been informed.
David Askew said: "Mr Sexton joined the fire service in 1991 and was a leading firefighter serving Southsea then Redbridge, Southampton.
"He left Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service in August 2003 to fulfil a long-standing ambition to travel the world and is believed to have been en route from India to Turkey when the earthquake struck.
"Mr Sexton has been buried in Bam and the Hampshire firefighters will hold a simple ceremony at the graveside today."
Peter Cook, a Hampshire firefighter who is part of the 68-strong UK rescue team, told of the moment when they realised the missing Briton was in fact an ex-colleague.
"It was a miraculous coincidence, a bit of a shock, I suppose," he said. "We knew there was a British citizen involved in the earthquake and we heard a rumour he was a firefighter but it never, ever occurred to us that he was a Hampshire firefighter - let alone someone we worked directly with. It was a big surprise."
Mr Cook said all Mr Sextons personal belongings would be brought back to the UK including the motorbike.
In Fareham, Hampshire, a male relative who did not wish to be named, spoke of Mr Sextons love of motorbikes.
"He was into motorbikes along with a group of them at the fire station.
"He was a young man who wanted to travel, who left the fire brigade because he wanted to travel.
"I think he was going to try to rejoin when he got back. At one stage, I heard he was going to try to get back home for Christmas but he was held up in southern Iran.
"It takes that kind of guy to get up and go - he was free and he was single."
With no hope of finding any more survivors, UK rescue team leaders decided yesterday it was time to leave to allow aid workers access to the tens of thousands who have been made homeless by the disaster. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_4293.shtml
The death toll is horrible and climbing.I do think it's most important to help the living,now.