A London firefighter has told the Hillsborough inquest that he was "dumbfounded" at the lack of help for stricken fans as disaster struck.

Anthony O'Keefe, a Liverpool fan, had left his seat and gone on the pitch to help victims, as 96 supporters were crushed to death on the Leppings Lane terrace of the Sheffield stadium as the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest got under way on April 15 1989.

But Mr O'Keefe, who had been a fireman with London Fire Brigade for three years at the time of the Hillsborough match and helped with the King's Cross rail disaster, said he was "amazed" at the lack of response from emergency services at Hillsborough.

Mr O'Keefe, who gave evidence at the inquest in his London Fire Service uniform, said after the match was abandoned he left his seat in the stand above the Leppings Lane terrace and made his way to the pitch.

He said: "I was dumbfounded, the fact that by the time I got on the pitch, it was enough time to get some emergency response."

Mr O'Keefe said while there, he saw a local firefighter in uniform with an oxygen cylinder.

He continued: "I asked him, I said, 'Where are all the firefighters?'

"He said a phrase, something like, 'there's 10 or 12 appliances outside, they think there's a major riot going on'.

"By then it was getting really frustrating."

Mr O'Keefe said when he first got on the pitch he had been given a green First Aid armband by a St John's Ambulance man and told, "Go and see what you can do."

The witness continued: "What I witnessed was something unbelievable.

"There was so many that was in need of care I felt so isolated.

"There's people lying all over this pitch and a line of police officers right across the middle and some police officers here helping with fans.

"This should not be happening, there should be some more response.

"I don't think all the time I was there, there was no great organisation.

"I would not want to use swear words but it was absolute chaos.

"It just beggars belief.

"I was just amazed at the lack of emergency response."

Mr O'Keefe found he could do nothing to save a number of fans but gave chest compressions and mouth to mouth resuscitation to a number of others before helping to carry an injured fan to the stadium gym - hastily turned into a casualty station and mortuary.

Christina Lambert QC, counsel to the inquest, asked the witness: "When you went in the gym, what did you see?"

Mr O'Keefe said: "It just seemed like chaos.

"The thing I will always remember is the way there was bodies just laid out in a strange order.

"In rows.

"Dead and alive in the same vicinity."

He was told if he found no sign of life in an injured fan to put a T-shirt over that person's head.

He then stayed with a young fan who was shouting, "Am I going to die?" to reassure him and telephone his mother to let her know he was still alive.

The hearing in Warrington continues.