In the early morning of 3 April 2021, a fire broke out in a three-storey building on the outskirts of the Thai capital Bangkok. While firefighters were working to extinguish the fire and rescue the residents, the building collapsed, burying several rescue workers and residents underneath.
As part of the USAR team of the government unit “Department of Disaster Prevention & Mitigation” (DDPM), the IRO member organisation Thai-RDA was requested to support the search operation. Upon arrival at the scene, the fire was still underway and lots of toxic smoke and fumes engulfed one side of the building. The search and rescue dogs Sierra, Sahara and Canine were immediately aware of their task and could hardly keep their paws still. But the search and rescue dog teams had to standby until the heat subsided and wait for the engineer’s clearance to enter the collapsed structures.
After about four hours the teams were finally able to start with the search under a propped-up roof. One by one, the dogs were sent to the place where victims were suspected, but none of the dogs indicated the presence of missing persons there. The search was extremely difficult for the dogs. Sue Redmond, member of Thai-RDA, told us: “The biggest challenge was the ground surface heat for the dogs to endure.” She further explains: “All of our three deployed search and rescue dogs wore boots to help protect their paws from the heat. However, these were also a hindrance when the dogs climbed the ladders to enter the structure as they had no grip, and with boots on the rooftop it was quite slippery too.”
The search for survivors was concluded after seven hours and recovery operations commenced. Several residents were injured in the tragic incident but could be rescued by the emergency services. Five other people, including the homeowner and four firefighters, unfortunately lost their lives.
We are proud of our search and rescue dog teams and appreciate their dedication, hard work, and determination to save lives.
Photos: Thai PBS News / Thai News Agency / Thai-RDA