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Six days in Turkey, three lives saved: British volunteer reflects on rescue mission

Rob Davis just saved the lives of three people.

After arriving back from Turkey in the early hours of the morning, he had a couple of beers on Tuesday night. He also enjoyed a full night of sleep.

The latest updates from Turkey-Syria’s earthquake

Mr. Davis, 52, is a former firefighter and leader with SARAID Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters.


Rescues in the devastated city of Kahramanmaras were a joint effort by the volunteer SARAID team and local rescue teams from Turkey and Germany @ Fire.

They were working on buildings that had been “tipped upside-down”, toppled blocks of flats and merged into one pile.

The team was rescued by the six-storey rubble of a building.

Dogs picked up a scent of live breathing, which was confirmed by their senses. The dogs smelt a live scent when they put a camera into the hole. A hand grasping the lens confirmed that the dog had smelled it.

Serpa, a 33 year-old woman who was trapped for over 60 hours under the “pancaked” building, had the hand.

Her six-year old daughter Hamza, was next to her. They were given water bottles through a hole. A medic crawled into the tunnel to examine them. Both were able to escape without any trauma.

Continue reading: Teacher saved after spending 200 hours in rubble

A Syrian man is determined to find his family

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Anguish meets hope in Turkey

The ‘Eerie silence’ helped to find the teenagers who were being held captive.

Twenty-four hours later, they received their second rescue call – this time to help a local Turkish team that needed their technical soundlocation equipment.

They called for silence from the crowd and brought down heavy machinery.

It was really quite strange. “You could hear a pin dropping,” Mr Davis stated.

They heard tapping through the headset.

After locating the noise, the local team began to search for the person trapped.

“They lifted this huge piece of concrete from the collapsed building, and underneath was Iqbal (15 years old). “You could see her head and hair. The rest of her was caught by the legs,” Mr Davis stated.

Image: Rescue and search teams working on a building that has collapsed in Adiyaman (Turkey

“Bitter” conditions in the midst of miracle rescue efforts

Initial thought was that her legs were crushed. But she was actually pinned down, with dehydration, but no major injuries.

The bed frame saved her by protecting her from collapsing buildings and providing her with something to bang against. This alerted rescue teams 110 hours later to her location.

She was unfortunately not the only one who had any luck.

He kept asking her for her mother, but they couldn’t find anyone alive in the ruins.

They worked under difficult circumstances. They were often called upon by distraught relatives to save their loved ones. However, they weren’t always able to help.

Temperatures dropped to -10C.

Davis stated that his team had “numerous discussions” about the difficult conditions.

Mr Davis stated, “If it is cold and we have five layers of clothing and a hot beverage, we can move and get warm. Just think about what it would be like to be trapped in a small space underneath a building five, six or eight days later.”

The rescue efforts are slowing down more than a week after earthquake.

Davis expects miracle rescues to occasionally occur – but Davis is still optimistic.


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