SAPS K9 team honoured for saving lives after earthquake in Turkey

The K9 search and rescue team of the South African Police Service (SAPS) provided valuable aid in the aftermath of the destructive earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria.

Their efforts were on Wednesday recognized and praised by Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan.

In February a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit parts of Turkey and Syria. This was followed by another earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7. The earthquake caused a lot of damage and sadly many people lost their lives.

It was deemed the biggest earthquake in Turkey since 1939 and one of the strongest ever recorded in the area. The area affected was very large, about the same size as Germany, and about 16% of Turkey’s population was affected. Many people lost their homes and were left homeless.

It is reported that at least 105 countries and 16 international organizations pledged their support, including humanitarian aid. Search and rescue teams with dogs were sent by over eleven countries to help locate victims under debris. Monetary support was also offered including the K9 team.

The team, which worked alongside the Gift of the Givers Foundation, was recognised for their role in recovering over 200 bodies and rescuing one live victim, aged 90, who had been trapped under the rubble for nine days.

Commander Brigadier Vimla Moodley, who led the team, received a medal of supreme sacrifice on behalf of the team, while five sniffer dogs and their handlers were also recognised by the Turkish government.

General Fannie Masemola, the SAPS National Commissioner, praised the team’s expertise and excellence and thanked them for representing the SAPS and South Africa with great pride.

The SAPS K9 search and rescue teams have previously been involved in recovery operations around the world, including in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

“It is an honour to lead such excellence. When approached to go and assist the Turkish, they didn’t hesitate to respond to the call of duty. Thank you to each one of the team members for representing the SAPS and our country with great pride. Many thanks to Brigadier Moodley for leading effortlessly”, said Masemola.

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