For They worked all day and night in “icy winds” to drill holes in concrete slabs, but all they found were dead bodies. On the morning of the second day, their dog Julie “barked and lunged towards the rubble of a three-story building.” The rescuers went after them. About three hours later, someone shouted, “There is a child here who is still alive!”
It was a “miracle” for the people from India’s National Disaster Response Force who were in Noordagi, a town in Turkey’s Gaziantep province that had been hit by an earthquake.
“The six-year-old girl was pulled from the wreckage and given to local officials, who flew her to the hospital… 80 hours had passed since the earthquake. Since we landed on February 7, we had been working nonstop, but we had only found dead bodies. The leader of the NDRF team in Turkey, Commandant Gurminder Singh, told The Indian Express that what they were seeing was a miracle.
The girl was saved by one of three teams sent to Turkey by the NDRF. Each team had 18 people and four dogs. It was one of the two sent to Gaziantep. Noordagi, which is about 23 km from the epicentre of the earthquake, had almost 600 buildings fall down completely. Hatay province is where the other NDRF team is.
Commandant Singh said that saving lives and the kindness of the people in the area are what keep the team going. “At debris sites, they wait for hours in the bitter cold and open air to hear from us. No one freaks out or gets upset. Even when we find dead people, they come to hug and kiss us… “They say that we are “Hindustani,”” he said. So far, saving the six-year-old has been the best part.
Singh said that Julie’s barking woke up the team at around 9 a.m. Then the people trying to help started to dig into the rubble. After two hours, they found the body of a 75-year-old woman, which showed that her family could be nearby, whether they were dead or alive. A body of a man and a woman was found by NDRF Sub-Inspector Bintao Boria an hour later.
Singh said, “The woman’s body looked like it was curled over something.” “When Boria moved the body, he saw a 6-year-old girl who was still and had her eyes closed. During the exam, he saw movement under the eyelids. He yelled, “There is a living child here!”
The next day, the NDRF saved a 13-year-old girl who was found alive in the rubble of an eight-story building by the Turkish Army. Aside from these two people who made it out alive, the NDRF has pulled 28 bodies from the rubble. “The four dogs we brought here are the reason we were able to save everyone,” Singh said.
For the NDRF teams, as well as the Indian Army rescuers in Turkey, there are a lot of problems. For example, temperatures can drop to -5 degrees Celsius, the local government is in disarray, and the teams are tired and can’t speak the language.
“This is a specialised job that requires smarts. The idea is to work on places where more people might be able to live. On the first day, though, we were on our own… Even though we brought an interpreter with us, it would have been better to have a local one,” Singh said.
A few people on the team got sick because of the cold, but Singh said that the fact that they hadn’t slept for three nights straight was the main reason they were so tired. “In any rescue operation, the first three days are the most important, because that’s when the most lives can be saved. During this time, we work on the rescue every hour,” he said.