GAZIANTEP : Members of the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) were struck by disbelief and shock when they discovered and rescued five members of a family who were trapped in the rubble of their residential building for the past six days on Saturday as a result of the devastating earthquake that hit this area.
SMART MAS-01 search and rescue operations officer (SAR) Insp Muhamad Zul Khairi Idris said the cry of ‘takbir’ (Allahuakbar) when the first victim – a teenage boy – was taken out at 1.20 pm (6.20 pm Malaysian time) almost brought the team into tears.
However, keeping their feelings in check, Muhamad Zul Khairi and his group members knew that they were shouldering a great responsibility and expectation from the local people to rescue those trapped.
One by one, the remaining victims were successfully taken out by 2.20 pm (7.20 pm Malaysian time) in safe condition before being handed over to the local medical team.
Muhamad Zul Khairi said his team of 24 members and a tracking dog (Frankie) had headed to the new search area following information from the reconnaissance team located 1.3 km from the national rescue team camp at Nurdagi Stadium at 11 am local time (4 pm Malaysian time).
“At 1 pm (6 pm Malaysian time) the local team at the ground said there was a sound coming from under the rubble, we then used the Life Detector Six Sensor System and Victim Simulator (Delsar) equipment to successfully locate the victims who were trapped two metres under the rubble.
“At first we expected there to be three victims, but after communicating through the Delsar equipment the victims said there were five of them trapped together in a room under the rubble,” he told Bernama and Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) here today.
The cold and dusty weather in Nurdagi which had reached almost one degree Celsius at the time was the last thing on the minds of the team members as they dug up and removed obstacles to open a safe space to evacuate the victims.
Muhamad Zul Khairi said his team used special tools to cut the entangled concrete irons, while load-bearing struts were used to open a tunnel-like space to allow the rescue team to take out the victims.
The five victims were the first to be found safe by the national SAR team since being deployed here.
As of the time of reporting, the national rescue team has brought out 25 bodies and five survivors.
A large earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale that hit southern Turkiye and northwestern Syria on Monday has claimed thousands of lives.
Aftershocks were also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.
The death toll from the earthquake in southern Turkiye has risen to at least 7,108 people while over 40,000 are reported injured.
Turkiye on Tuesday declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces, namely Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa, to ensure the smooth running of the SAR mission.