A Dutch search dog team is heading out to Morocco to help with the rescue and recovery operation following last Friday’s earthquake.
Signi Zoekhonden, based in the Noord-Brabant village of De Rips, is sending a six-person team with three Belgian shepherds and a labrador to search the rubble.
The team are travelling at the request of local residents, founder Esther van Neerbos told NOS.
“We were ready to go soon after the earthquake, but we were unable to make contact with the Moroccan government,” she said. “In the end we were able to make contact with local people in the area.”
Nearly 3,000 people have been confirmed dead in the wake of the earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, which struck the Marrakech region just after 11pm on Friday. An aftershock measuring 4.9 shook the area again 20 minutes later.
Local residents and international aid agencies have expressed their frustration that Morocco has only asked for help from a small number of nations, including Spain, Israel and the UK.
Organisations such as Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) only respond to official requests made through national governments, the European Union or the United Nations.
Rescue organisations say time is running out to locate survivors, but Van Neerbos said there was still valuable work to do. “We’ll mainly be relieving people who’ve been working there for the last few days,” she said.
“People can only go on with their lives once their loved ones have been found. They want to know for sure if somebody is dead, for example. If we can find them, it makes a huge difference.”
The team is due to fly out from Brussels at 3pm and will touch down four hours later.
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