Efforts to rescue people from underneath rubble are continuing in both Turkey and Syria, after a pair of strong earthquakes struck the countries on Monday (6 February).
The prospects of rescuing survivors trapped under collapsed buildings are gradually diminishing, following two freezing days and nights in the affected region. The death toll from the natural disaster has already reached 11,000, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) having said it expects the number of dead could reach 20,000.
Efforts have also been hampered by the Syrian civil war, which is still raging in the parts of the country that have been devastated by the earthquakes. The forces of President Bashar al-Assad have been accused of shelling the rebel-held town of Marea as rescue efforts were underway to help survivors.
In affected areas in Turkey, a three-month state of emergency has been declared by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has said that 70 countries around the world, including the UK, have pledged aid and support to help the Mediterranean country’s rescue and recovery efforts.
One of the countries that is providing support is Mexico. The Central American country, which is itself an earthquake hotspot, has sent a pack of its famous search and rescue dogs to help look for survivors.
But why are these dogs so famous - and what rescue operations have they previously been involved with?
Who are the Mexico rescue dogs?
Mexico’s search and rescue dogs are a pack of canines who have been specially trained to detect humans trapped underneath rubble. When they find a person, they will bark and scratch at the site under which they have detected someone.
Dogs are especially useful in areas where rubble is deemed to be too delicate for the use of heavy machinery. Mexico is not the only country to send four-legged helpers - Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Libya, Poland, Switzerland, the UK and the United States have all mobilised their canine rescue teams.
But Mexico’s group of 16 dogs are by far the most famous, having been a key part of efforts to rescue people in the country following a devastating earthquake in 2017.
Who is Frida the rescue dog?
The most famous of all of Mexico’s rescue dogs is Frida the Labrador Retriever. A picture of her searching for survivors in Mexico City in 2017 wearing protective boots and goggles led to her becoming a national hero in Mexico.
She also worked on rescue operations in other countries struck by major natural disasters, including Haiti, Guatemala and Ecuador. The famous pooch has been credited by her navy handlers with saving 12 lives and locating 40 bodies during her career.
Sadly, Frida passed away from old age in 2022. But one of her former colleagues is travelling to Turkey.
Ecko the Belgian Malinois was spotted boarding a flight to Europe with his navy handler on Tuesday (7 February), alongside dozens of other search and rescue specialists.