Turkey-Syria earthquake: NI search dog aids in Turkish woman's rescue

On a pile of rubble, Kyle and Delta are searching

A woman who was trapped in the rubble of Turkey's earthquake was successfully rescued thanks in large part to a search and rescue team from Northern Ireland.

In the town of Kahramanmaras on Wednesday, Melike Imamoglu, 42, was extricated from the debris by rescuers.

Search dog Delta, according to Kyle Murray of K9 Search and Rescue NI, had indicated that she had been discovered alive.

An indication is when a search dog indicates that it has located a particular scent.

Following the earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude, more than 41,000 people have died in Turkey and neighboring Syria.

Max and Delta, two search dog teams, along with Mr. Murray and Ryan Gray, have been working with Evolsar, the European Association of Civil Protection Volunteer Teams, since they arrived in Turkey on Friday.

It "really only hit me when Ryan phoned me this morning," according to Mr. Murray, that he and Delta had played a part in helping to find someone alive.

He told BBC News NI, "It's overwhelming that after all that hard work to hear that the person has survived is great to hear and overwhelming.".

Kyle and Delta on search duty on a rubble pile
Throughout their time in Turkey, Kyle and Delta put in long hours every day.

He later traveled back to Northern Ireland with Mr. Gray, their dogs, and himself.

"What we have seen and gone through will be difficult to digest," he said.

The conditions were worse than expected and they have been working "constantly," he said.

"At first, it was mind-blowing to observe the utter devastation outside.

I wasn't really prepared for the extent of the damage that is here from looking at photos and news reports.

"These were seven story buildings that were pancaked on top of one another. It is rubble piles. ".

"Hope and confidence.".

Mr. Murray claimed that emotions were set aside despite the scenes initially being "numbing.".

We shift into work mode because that is what we were there to do, he said.

Delta rests her head on Kyle's legs
In between her search work, Delta took brief naps to recharge.

"Everyone arrives at the site in good spirits, makes Turkish tea, and provides food for us.

"When they hear the dog bark, there is complete silence; this is necessary for me to enter the work area and conduct my duties.

"They gain hope and confidence when they hear a dog bark. ".

The rescuers received a call early on Wednesday morning, packed their gear, and headed to the search area.

When they arrived, they found a calm environment, and they were informed that some people might still be alive.

The fact that someone was there to capture the moment Delta made its location known, according to Mr. Murray, was "fantastic.".

He was instructed to accompany Delta to two already-dug holes.

He said, "I put her on to the first hole, and she sniffed around the hole.

Ryan Gray (left), Kyle Murray (right) and their dogs Max and Delta with a helicopter pilot in Turkey
Last week, Ryan Gray (left), Kyle Murray (right), and their dogs Max and Delta took a plane to the Turkish earthquake zone.

She ascended a shelf, and I could tell she was drawn to that space.

"When she climbed out of it again, she told me that there were people there. ".

It takes time to locate the people precisely because of the way that smell travels.

To confirm the location where the dog thought the scent was coming from, Mr. Murray and Delta repeatedly returned to the scene.

"It's heavy going," he said, "and it takes them about an hour to dig and excavate half a metre of concrete.".

People were lifting the rubble out with their bare hands, putting it into buckets and then transferring it in a chain motion to the rubble pile," he explained.

A different search group had a "great piece of kit that could tell us there was still a heartbeat in the area.".

That, he claimed, gave him a "massive boost of confidence.".

Max and Delta are given water by Kyle
For their crucial work in the earthquake zone, the dogs were kept well-hydrated.

The team is resting safely back in Northern Ireland, where Max and Delta will receive a vet visit.

A teenage girl was saved on Thursday, 10 days after the earthquake.

The bodies of three women and two children were discovered on Wednesday.

As workers focused on restoring the cities damaged by the earthquakes in February, they were rescued.

Humanitarian aid is needed because millions of people in Turkey and Syria are residing in makeshift camps.

Video of the rescue posted to social media by the Mayor of Darica, Muzaffer Biyik, showed workers applauding and embracing one another as Ms Kekec was loaded into the ambulance.

Local media in Antakya, another Turkish city severely damaged by the earthquakes, reported that a mother and her two children had been rescued alive from the wreckage.

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