The 47-member National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue team from India known as “Operation Dost,” along with dog squad members Rambo and Honey, returned on February 17 morning following their 10-day busy and successful engagements while providing round-the-clock support to the victims of earthquake-hit Turkey.
The rest of the 54-member team, with the head of the whole contingent, is on the way and is expected to arrive at Ghaziabad’s Hindon Air Force Station by this evening. These members belong to the force’s 11th Battalion in Varanasi and 2nd Battalion in Kolkata.
Shortly after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated Turkey, India declared “Operation Dost” and dispatched a team from the Army to establish 60 Para Field Hospitals and the NDRF for search and rescue operations, as well as relief and humanitarian assistance to the “Dost” (friendly) country.
The 47-member NDRF team, led by Deputy Commandant Deepak Talwar, returned on February 17 in the morning. Among the crew were a five-member women crew comprising Sub-Inspector Shivani Agrawal, Sushama Yadav, Rakhi, Archana Singh and Priyanka Rai– who belonged to the force’s 8th Battalion and were among the first batch of the 51-member team that was sent to Turkey on February 7.
The 47-member team was among 101 NDRF personnel who were dispatched to Turkey in two separate batches with a four-member dog squad–Julie, Romeo, Honey and Rambo– for undertaking search and rescue operations in the affected areas of Turkey, which was devastated on February 6 by a massive earthquake and its aftershocks.
Sharing the operational details, Talwar told ANI that the NDRF personnel rescued two children from the rubble and evacuated 85 bodies during their 10-day engagements in earthquake-hit Turkey despite tough weather circumstances in the country.
Deepak Talwar said, “The weather was too cold in Turkey compared to India when we arrived there on February 7. Our troops engaged in the operation at two locations nearly 150 km from the Adana Airport in Turkey…We rescued two children and evacuated 85 bodies from the debris during our 10-day operation “.
An Indian Air Force C17 flight with over 50 personnel from the NDRF and a specially trained dog squad along with necessary equipment, including medical supplies, drilling machines and other equipment required for the aid efforts, had also departed for Turkey with the specially trained Labrador breed dog squad, who are expert in sniffing and other key skills during rescue operations in disaster-hit regions.
When the National Disaster Response Force of India miraculously saved a six-year-old girl and garnered media attention, a lot of the credit for the daring rescue ought to be reserved for ‘Romeo’ and ‘Julie’, part of the NDRF’s dog squad.
When technology failed, Romeo and Juliet were successful. The dog squad was instrumental in detecting the little girl’s whereabouts under tonnes of rubble. Without their help, the little girl could not have survived. Almost 41,000 people have died due to earthquakes that struck Turkey and northwest Syria.
The NDRF, which received international acclaim following the triple tragedy in Japan in 2011 and the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, successfully completed its assignment for the fourth time since its creation on foreign soil.
Always led from the front by displaying a high level of dedication and commitment, the NDRF, which was constituted in 2006, was first time sent for an international rescue operation in Japan in 2011 to help the country facing triple disaster, followed by Bhutan river rescue operation in 2014 and Nepal earthquake in 2015. This was the fourth international disaster rescue operation when the NDRF team was tasked to help earthquake-hit Turkey.
On February 6, a powerful earthquake with a Richter scale magnitude of 7.8 tore through Turkey and Syria, followed by a series of aftershocks causing huge devastation, loss of lives and damage to infrastructure in both countries.