Belfast Telegraph

Over 70 pigs saved from slurry tank in Northern Ireland's largest ever animal rescue operation

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) led a rescue team which saved over 72 pigs from a slurry tank on a farm in Co Antrim on Sunday.

It was the largest animal rescue operation in the history of Northern Ireland and lasted nearly seven hours on the farm on the Ballinderry Road in Aghalee.

Six NIFRS appliances attended the incident along with a specialist rescue team and a large animal rescue team.

The pigs, weighing over 100 kilos each, fell into the slurry tank when concrete slots gave way. Unfortunately two pigs died during the operation.

Aghalee farmer Nigel Grant thanked the Fire Service for their work in rescuing his pigs.

"We had a good outcome, out of all the pigs in the tank we lost two. I can't praise the fire brigade enough," he told Q Radio.

"There's an old saying in this country, whoever owns the cows in the drain will pull hardest on the rope, well today I saw the fire brigade men pull hardest on the rope.

"They didn't own the stock, but they pulled very hard today on the rope."

NIFRS Group Commander Geoff Somerville paid tribute to the work of those involved in the operation.

"It was very arduous conditions, firefighters were working using breathing apparatuses and immersion suits, they worked in teams of three to rescue the pigs and then.

"I would like to pay tribute to the work of the crews and everyone in attendance, it was a great result. We thought we were going to be dealing with a much worse situation."

Commander Somerville asked that the public be mindful when working on slurry farms due to the dangers posed.

Local SDLP councillor Mairia Cahill said that the rescue was a real good news story.

"Fair play to the Northern Ireland Fire Service who worked very hard in difficult conditions to rescue these pigs.

"It has been a significant operation and a very successful one. We all know the dangers of slurry fumes and they put themselves at risk to rescue the pigs.

"I'd like to pay tribute to them for all their hard work and I hope all the rescued pigs are ok."

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