Dog rescued in Turkey
Freedom at last, after 200 hours under rubble

Portugal’s search & rescue heroes in Turkey rescue dog after 200 hours

But no more people since 10-year-old boy last Saturday

Portugal’s 52-strong team of search and rescue specialists deployed in earthquake-ravaged Turkey have dug another living being from the rubble, albeit not a human.

The team discovered a thin and exhausted golden retriever-type dog today, trapped in a collapsed basement in the same city of Antakya where they saved the life of 10-year-old Baran on Saturday.

The dog will have spent 200 hours in his underground tomb.

With “ribs sticking out” and some wounds to his paws and snout where he had himself tried to dig a way to safety, the animal could not feasibly have lasted much longer.

André Rosa, coordinator of the GNR team running sniffer dogs told Lusa that dogs can stand much longer than humans without food, but even so, 200 hours is a long time without water.

The animal only had enough space to lie in. He was hemmed in on all sides by rubble from the earthquake that flattened the city in the early hours of Monday February 6 … and no one was looking for a ‘lost dog’. 

Said André Rosa, the rescue began by absolute chance.

On the way to a house where a corpse the team was going to try to recover was believed to be, GNR colleague Filipa Mendes decided to give a toy to one of the team’s dogs, Kejsi.

Kejsi, seven years old “with a history of rescue operations”, barked at Filipa … and a dog barked back.

The team tried to figure out where the dog’s bark was coming from. It seemed to come from one particular damaged property.

Initially, they searched the first floor – but quickly realised the animal was trapped in the basement.

The basement was covered with rubble, but it was essentially brick (not concrete), and one of the search and rescue operatives used a ‘hooligan’ (a tool that allows you to drill through a wall) to break through in the area where everyone decided the bark had come from.

A hole began to open up, and very soon the exhausted dog’s muzzle appeared.

Portuguese rescue team members trying to free the dog from a collapsed building in Antakya capital of Hatay Province on February 14 – Photo: EPA/JOAO RELVAS

“The team left some food, and tried to coax him out”, writes Lusa.

It didn’t take long, the dog climbed out of the hole on his own, to rapturous applause.

Utterly confused, he didn’t at first go for the food, or the water. “He ran around the building”, says Lusa.

But then he returned, and went straight for the water.

After a great deal of petting, the dog was named: “Tuga” (slang for ‘a Portuguese’).

Tuga apparently recovered himself sufficiently to make advances to Kejsi “who did not find the advances funny”.

The team secured him close to the collapsed house, with access to food and water, and to add to the miracle, an owner arrived about an hour later.

Said André Rosa, “saving a dog is incredible, even more so for us, as dogs are our co-workers”.

Filipa Mendes realises that she has to make Kejsi “bark more often…” There may be other animals, still left behind in the rubble, waiting to bark back.

This has been the second real high-point for the team that arrived in Turkey last Wednesday.

On Saturday they saved the life of Baran who has since been airlifted to hospital in Istanbul for specialist treatment.

Search and rescue efforts sadly are now scaling back as too many days have passed to hope for much more in the way of miracles.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks that shook Syria and Turkey on February 6 killed more than 35,000 people, including more than 3,600 in Syria.  The death toll is still expected to increase as focus shifts from rescue to recovery.

It is not clear how much longer the Portuguese team will remain in Turkey. Operatives are now more focused on recovering bodies (see report to come) and helping grieving relatives with the process of bereavement.

Meantime, a video of the moment ‘Tuga’ escaped his tomb, see the social media pages of “Autoridade Nacional de Emergência e Proteção Civil”

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