/ 14 February 2023

Gift of the Givers celebrates as 80-year-old woman is rescued from quake rubble

Turkey And Syria Earthquake
Photo: Getty Images

Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers’ search-and-rescue and medical teams are rejoicing after freeing an 80-year-old woman who had been buried under rubble in  Türkiye’s province of Hatay, seven days after the earthquake struck.

The death toll from the earthquake, which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale and struck villages and cities in both Türkiye and neighbouring Syria, has risen above 37 000 as of Tuesday. Gift of the Givers rescuers arrived in both countries on 9 February.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said the search-and-rescue operations required a collaborative effort, grit, determination, hope, faith, technical equipment and, above all, sniffer dogs.

“Congratulations to the SAPS K9 dogs who detected the live individual and the Gift of the Givers working collaboratively with the Omani team to retrieve an 80-year-old woman,” Sooliman said in an audio note sent to journalists.

Sooliman recalled how the humanitarian group had achieved the same success on day eight in the Haiti search-and-rescue effort in 2010 when it found a 64-year-old woman alive in a collapsed Catholic church.

“When we work together as a common humanity for the purpose of human beings, there is always success,” he added.

In his State of the Nation address in parliament last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa applauded the Gift of the Givers’ work in the aftermath of the disaster.

“As a country, we are immensely proud of the efforts of Gift of the Givers to help those affected by the earthquake,” Ramaphosa said.