Persian earthquake, the most veteran rescue dog of the UME deployed in Morocco

Her name is Persian and she is the most veteran rescue dog of the Military Emergency Unit (UME)

Persian earthquake, the most veteran rescue dog of the UME deployed in Morocco

Her name is Persian and she is the most veteran rescue dog of the Military Emergency Unit (UME). Along with 47 troops and three other canine companions from the 4th Battalion of the UME, based in Zaragoza, Persa has been deployed in Morocco to help in the search for earthquake victims. The earthquake that devastated the provinces of Al Houz on Friday, which includes Marrakech, Tarundant, Ouarzarzat, Chichaua, Azilal and its surroundings, and which reached an intensity of 7 on the Richter scale, is one of the most intense in recent history. from the neighboring country. It has already claimed almost 3,000 lives.

Corporal Julio Antonio Redondo guides Persa in his search for survivors in the rubble of Imi N'Tala. The intense smell of death that oozes from the ruins makes people fear that the people who are buried under their houses are no longer in the world of the living. Even so, both - like the entire UME team - continue tirelessly insisting on every nook and cranny and putting all their effort into every centimeter of brush.

Imi N'Tala has been buried by the mountain and houses have blocked the road, preventing access to the following villages. The landscape is imposing, full of gorges, now accentuated by the emptiness left by the homes. The place, at almost 2,000 meters high, is part of the Tubkal National Geopark, the highest peak in Morocco at 4,167 meters. It is one of the most followed routes for trekking lovers.

Persa and Corporal Redondo, accredited as a canine guide since 2009, are working under these conditions. Redondo has carried out several missions abroad and already has experience in high mountains, having participated in the rescue efforts during the earthquake in Nepal, in April 2015. Persa has worked on other searches before and is trained to act in major disasters.

"Persa is a Belgian Malinois breed, she is seven years old and is the oldest member of the Zaragoza team," the corporal describes to his partner. To be prepared for these missions, "the training is daily, from Monday to Friday and even on some weekends. It specializes in searches in snow avalanches, debris such as earthquakes or attacks. It can also work on banks, "After a flood, when the water level drops it can detect if there are people left," adds Redondo.

Persian's specialty is finding living people. A difficult mission in Morocco, since the difficulties of access to the affected areas, very remote and cut off due to the effects of the catastrophe itself, and the nature of the constructions make it very complicated as the hours go by to find survivors. The adobe that is built in the Amazigh villages of the Atlas does not leave any living spaces and collapses like a sand castle, preventing air chambers from being created.

But as they say in the EMU, "hope is the last thing to be lost." As an example, they mention the earthquake in Turkey last February, the last one in which Spanish specialists intervened, when they managed to rescue people alive seven days after the landslide.

"We train these dogs only to search for live people. But there are canine guides who prepare what we call dual dogs, which can detect both corpses or human remains and live people," explains Redondo. "The dog detects the cells, the breath, the smell that a person emanates when they are alive. When a person dies, in approximately one hour they begin to emanate effluvia and the body decomposes and the dogs are able to detect that difference" .