22/07/2002

PSNI officers help save hundreds of lives in Kosovo

Four PSNI officers have helped to save the lives of hundreds of people in Kosovo after a serious fire broke out at a Power Station in Pristina.

One man was killed and 32 were injured in the blaze which took hold when lightning struck the power station.

Four PSNI officers, who are stationed in Pristina as part of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, an operation that includes 57 other Northern Ireland police officers on secondment, helped in the evacuation of hundreds of workers from the plant when the fire started in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Led by Detective Superintendent Paul Hamlin, the UN team's evacuation also helped fire-fighters with their efforts to prevent the blaze reaching a large hydrogen storage unit. If the fire had reached this part of the station there could have been a fireball that would have risked the lives and homes of local people in the surrounding area.

In all around 300 police, soldiers and firemen were involved in the emergency evacuation of the area.

The fire at the power station is likely to have a devastating effect on the region where the 61 PSNI officers, and officers from 53 other countries are stationed.

Electricity in Kosovo will now be rationed and will be on for two hours at a time every six hours for the next six months until the plant is repaired. Power will also be switched off at night.

(MB)

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