“Hero” Sniffer Dogs Help Search for Survivors in Türkiye

“Hero” Sniffer Dogs Help Search for Survivors in Türkiye
Fecha de publicación: 
8 February 2023
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Search and rescue dogs, dubbed "nameless heroes," have been working around the clock over the rubble of collapsed buildings searching for trapped survivors, three days after earthquakes hit southeastern Türkiye and Syria.

Search and rescue dogs have been working around the clock over the rubble of collapsed buildings searching for trapped survivors, three days after earthquakes hit southeastern Türkiye and Syria.

The death toll in Türkiye's devastating earthquakes climbed to 8,574 on Wednesday, while the number of injuries rose to 49,133, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

In the heavily damaged Kahramanmaras city center, the capital of Türkiye's southern province of Kahramanmaras, sniffer dogs were leading from site to site searching for possible survivors despite the winter cold.

Outfitted with a small GPS-enabled harness and driven by his sense of smell, a German shepherd dog, a proud member of a rescue team from the capital Ankara, was sniffing a pile of collapsed rubble to find buried survivors.

These dogs are considered ideal for rescue work as they can smell humans trapped underneath concrete and metal, and who are generally too weak to make their presence noticed.

Yunus Goren, the German shepherd's handler, explained that his dog was trained for a long time to sniff the smell of humans. "Nothing can match the canine skills to find people over a wide area in a limited amount of time," he said.

Normally, a trained dog has to take a rest after several hours of work, but when the situation is too critical, the teams have to keep going on.

Goren stressed that it is critical to find the trapped within the first 72 hours after the earthquake as the survival rate without food or water drops sharply after that.

And there is also an increased risk of hypothermia for the people who are trapped, as freezing temperatures sweep the quake-hit area.

Alper Ozgun, a veterinarian from Ankara, told Xinhua that dogs display not only a natural ability to find people but also to aid and protect them.

Besides their innate sense of smell, dogs can also hear the faintest noise from under the rubble and indicate to their handlers where to excavate with precision, he added, stressing "the dogs are essential in a disaster."

During the rescue work after the Marmara region earthquake in northwestern Türkiye in 1999 which killed over 17,000 people, search and rescue dogs were instrumental in finding survivors, and they were praised by the public.

For the latest rescue mission, Turkish social media users have hailed the contribution of "nameless heroes" -- sniffer dogs for their valuable efforts.

Foreign search and rescue teams have also sent sniffer dogs to help efforts in Türkiye, including Mexico's famed canine team.

A search dog from a rescue team from Azerbaijan managed on Tuesday to save a little girl called Zeynep from the rubble she was trapped under, local TV reported, which is one of the many survivors detected by sniffer dogs in the quake-hit area.

The search and rescue teams from more than 65 countries arrived in the Turkish earthquake zone to extend support in the post-quake efforts, according to an official statement.

A plane carrying China's official rescue team and 20 metric tons of disaster relief materials and equipment arrived at the southern city of Adana in the early hours of Wednesday.

The team, which consists of 82 members will take part in search and rescue operations.

In addition to materials and equipment for search and rescue, communication, and medical treatment, the team also brought four rescue dogs.

Two major earthquakes of 7.7 and 7.6 magnitudes hit the province of Kahramanmaras Monday, wreaking havoc throughout a vast region spanning over 10 Turkish provinces. (by Burak Akinci)

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