A canine search and rescue team from Bangor, County Down, is set to travel to Turkey on Friday to aid the search for earthquake survivors.
More than 19,700 people are now known to have died after Monday’s earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria
Ryan Gray and a colleague will be accompanied by working dogs Max and Delta, both Labradors.
Mr Gray, the founder of K9 Search and Rescue, said they were going to search for people still alive in the rubble.
“The two dogs that we’re bringing with us, they are purely for live people,” he told Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra.
“We are still very much in the mindset, as are our colleagues, that it’s still very much search and rescue – we’ve definitely not moved onto search and recovery yet.
“Although it’s very cold out there, it’s -3 at night-time, in the middle of that building it could be quite warm.
“We know it’s raining, so if that water filters down into the building and potentially they’re just getting a couple of drips, they could stay alive for really quite some time.
“The town we’re going to, last night there was a 12-year-old boy pulled out alive and they’re still pulling live people out.”
Rescuers are continuing their search for survivors and the first UN relief convoy has arrived in northern Syria.
Mr Gray said his team was eager to get to Turkey to help those efforts.
“We’re itching to get there, we wish we were already there,” he said
“We’ve trained so much for this, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into training to go and do what we’re going to do.
“So at the minute we’re just busting to get there – we want to get there, we want to try and make a difference while we can.”
He said Max and Delta, who both hold urban search and rescue licences, were capable of detecting the human scent of people trapped deeply amongst the rubble.
“They’ll go out and we’ll put them on to the rubble pile, the collapsed house or the collapsed apartment block or whatever it may be and they will identify to us if there is anyone still alive within that building,” Mr Gray said.
“The person could be incredibly deep in a void, right in the middle of it – the dogs will pick up on their human scent, they’ll alert us and we’ll then tell our Turkish search and rescue team to start digging.”
Source : BBC