Nepal faced a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25, 2015 leaving 4356 dead and 8165 injured. Reports have been coming in since then of survivors pulled from the rubble, including this five month old baby pulled from the debris 22 hours after the earthquake hit.
A full six days after the initial earthquake, survivors are still sifting through the disaster amidst aftershocks with little hope that anyone else will be found alive. But search and rescue dogs are still on the scene, helping to recover the bodies of loved ones lost.
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Search and rescue dogs and their handlers serve humanity during its darkest moments and work tirelessly to save lives following a disaster.
KATMANDU, Nepal – Five days had passed since an earthquake devastated Nepal, and rescue teams had largely given up hope of finding anyone else alive among the piles of brick and broken concrete that litter Katmandu. Then on Thursday, in a part of the city dense with cheap hotels and shops, rescuers turned off a mechanical shovel and – in the relative silence – heard a cry.
In the mess lay a 15-year-old hotel worker, Pemba Tamang. A team of rescuers from the United States offered the Nepali crew a camera that was snaked through the debris. It showed the teenager trapped under a metal shutter. A concrete slab was poised above him – held up only by a flattened motorcycle.
“He was trapped in a 2.5-foot-tall-by-3.5-foot-wide area behind the motorcycle,” said Chris Schaff, a battalion chief with the Fairfax County Fire Department from Virginia, who was on the American team. “He wasn’t being crushed; he was just pinned.”
The problem was the concrete slab. It was unstable and a threat not only to the teenager, but to the rescuers themselves, since it hung over the area where the men had to dig.
“It was the most concerned I’ve ever been about people under my command,” Chief Schaff said.
Despite the dangers, eight Nepali rescuers and two Americans continued to dig. As the news spread that someone might be rescued, residents, who were living in fear as the city was battered by aftershocks, rushed to the scene, desperate for good news. The crowd swelled to several hundred, with people lining the roadway and craning for a glimpse from a nearby footbridge.
Dozens of Nepali soldiers also clustered around the site, apparently eager to be part of a proud moment after days of hardship, and amid frustration from citizens who accused their government of ineptitude.
For the renowned search-and-rescue team from the United States, the task was a chance to finally save someone, after a dispiriting day Wednesday in the nearby city of Bhaktapur. There, people had hoped the rescuers could unearth bodies for a proper burial, but the team’s mission is to find the living.
When Mr. Tamang was finally lifted out, cheers rang out from the throng of onlookers witnessing what might be the last, or one of the last, rescues in a terrible week. Mr. Tamang’s face was covered in dust, and a blue brace had been placed around his neck. He told rescuers that he had managed to find ghee, or clarified butter, in his tiny enclosure, and that it had sustained him. He was then taken to an Israeli field hospital in surprisingly good condition.
A woman at another site was freed from the rubble during the day, after being trapped next to three people who had died.
The rescues were among the rare bits of good news on an otherwise dreary and rainy day during which the enormity of the tragedy continued to sink in. The death toll has already exceeded 5,800, with many more confirmed deaths expected.
Although aftershocks continue, the miserable weather seemed to have persuaded an increasing number to leave the tent cities set up throughout the city, presumably for their homes. Bus service to Nepal’s remote villages began again Thursday, with the government promising free rides. And flights between some of Nepal’s smaller cities and Katmandu resumed.
Read more at: Nepal Survivors Lay Amid Rubble and Bodies After Earthquake.
Humans and canines pull together in the most wonderful ways when a tragedy strikes, working side by side, often with an innate sense of what needs to be done.