site.btaBulgarian Volunteers in Kahramanmaras Discontinue Search for Survivors
The 33 Bulgarian volunteers who have been helping in the effort to find survivors in quake-hit Kahramanmaras, Turkiye, will discontinue their work around 5 p.m. on Sunday, BTA learnt from Georgi Vlaykov, who heads the team of the National Association of Volunteers in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAVB).
"We stayed 24 hours after all light teams who are on the ground, and we are leaving behind dozens of foreign teams with heavy earth-moving equipment, the volunteer said.
The NAVB team arrived on the night of February 8 to 9 and have been working round the clock.
The volunteers were joined on site by a Bulgarian firefighter with a rescue dog from Sweden. The dog alone detected 12 or 14 survivors under the debris, who were then referred to properly equipped rescuers. The Bulgarians shared in pulling two of the survivors from the rubble. "Retrieval is difficult and time-consuming because it requires cranes and other heavy-duty equipment," Vlaykov commented.
"The feeling of finding a survivor is indescribable, considering that we're racing with time and cold," he said. Saturday was the coldest day since their arrival, with temperatures dropping to minus 17 C. Ninety-six hours after the quake, the tendency is reversed, with the dead bodies found outnumbering the living. "It emerged at a news briefing this morning that the Kyrgyzstani team had found just one survivor, compared to 54 corpses," he specified. In his opinion, finding people live on the seventh day is statistically exceptional.
The Bulgarian volunteers' team includes four paramedics and two ambulances. They gifted four tents to a newly arrived Mexican team whose gear has yet to be delivered.
First responders from 27 countries are accommodated in the Kahramanmaras camp, and the Bulgarians are the only volunteers who are not qualified professional rescuers. "To us this is a fantastic experience, we will streamline a lot of things in terms of arrangements and equipment requirements," Vlaykov said. The foreign rescuers will help them register as a rescue module with the International System. People will undergo international training, and financial resources will be solicited for equipment, he added.
The Bulgarian volunteers will leave for Istanbul at 6 p.m. on Sunday and, after spending a night there, will proceed to Bulgaria on Tuesday.