During a mission last week in the city of Nurdagi, which is near the epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the region on February 6, burying thousands of people under the rubble of houses that collapsed, the NDRF team had “solid inputs” that a survivor was stuck under the debris.
Enter Romeo and Julie. The Labrador duo sniffed their way through the debris and barked, at which the teams brought in the machinery and started drilling. After toiling for hours, they reached Baren. The six-year-old girl was breathing.
The two Labs attached to the 2nd battalion of the NDRF in Kolkata have helped the teams rescue two girls alive from under tonnes of debris in Nurdagi, Turkiye. The Indian government has sent three NDRF teams – from Ghaziabad, Kolkata and Varanasi – to help with rescue operations in Turkiye. There are two other dogs in the teams – Honey and Rambo. So far, the squads have dug out 45 bodies from the rubble in Nurdagi and Antakya.
While Baren was rescued on February 9, Miray Karatas (9) was brought out the next day. “It is because of Romeo and Julie that we were able to rescue the two children. As they searched through the rubble on February 9, Romeo stopped and barked. Julie joined him. After hours of search, we managed to drill holes into the concrete chunks and bring out a girl. She was alive. The next day, we found another survivor. Both of them are doing fine,” said Vipin Pratap Singh of the 8th NDRF battalion from Ghaziabad.
The NDRF teams from Ghaziabad and Kolkata are carrying out searches in Nurdagi while personnel from Varanasi have been engaged in rescue efforts in Antakya. “On Monday, we extracted nine bodies,” said deputy commandant Deepak Talwar of the 8th battalion, who is leading a 51-member team in Nurdagi.
Meanwhile, the toll from the earthquake in Turkiye and neighbouring areas of Syria climbed to 33,000 on Monday. “The chances of anyone being alive now is quite slim,” Talwar told this correspondent.
Cutting through concrete slabs is not the only challenge the NDRF teams are facing. They are battling sub-zero communicate with locals, mtemperatures at night, with temperatures falling to -10°C and are finding it tough to ost of whom don’t speak English. “Despite these hurdles, we have been working every day in 11-hour shifts,” Talwar said.