SAR Mission to Turkey, 11/99  
  August 26, 1999
Marketplace host David Brancaccio talks to Harry Oakes, a search and rescue specialist who paid his own way to Turkey to help save earthquake victims. Oakes can be reached at 503-650-1904, email
or if you get an error message send to my personal email at or Web site,   Real Audio

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Photo by David Brancaccio

The Portland, Oregon-based search and rescue team of Harry Oakes, Jr. and his dog Valerie in Istanbul. Oakes can be reached at 503-650-1904.

Photo by David Brancaccio

An apartment building in downtown Adapazari.

Photo by David Brancaccio

Destroyed building flanked by two damaged buildings in city of Adapazari.


Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue, Sanayi Caddesi,
Genc Osman Sokak #5, Cobancesme, Yenibosna Istanbul, Turkey 34520  
Available 24 hours: 0532-255-5897, 0532-345-0849, 212-239-1663


11-12-99, 1815hrs. a 7.2 earthquake struck Turkey. Lifeline K-9 SAR dog teams
were activated and responded to the destroyed cities.

Action Taken

11-12-99 1815Hrs. Earthquake epicenter 200-km East of Istanbul, in town named Duzce and surrounding areas, 7.2 lasting 30 second.  Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue teams sent 8 K-9 SAR persons, 6 K-9 SAR dogs.

While in Istanbul, we felt the earthquake, (Remmick Nasreddin, Samy Nasreddin, Harry Oakes) while inside an office building in the area of Yenibosna, Istanbul.  Initially mobile telephones were not functioning, then only intermittent service. On drive to our home, we contacted team members of Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue and Samy was in contact with both DSM, ORDOS, and AKUT, finding out details and organizing our plans to go to the disaster site. We received news from radio and updated reports of damage from friends calling to keep us informed.

1900 hrs teams preparing gear and dogs/ loading vehicles.
2336 hrs Lifeline K-9 SAR members and International K-9 SAR Harry Oakes meet in parking lot Kemer Golf and Country Club and depart to meet with ORDOS group in Asian side.

11-13-99, 0031hrs met with 4 ORDOS members, leader Erdem Tuc (miles to date: 35), receive pass to put in window of car to expedite our travel.

0335 hrs arrive in town Kaynacli (near Bolu and 15 km away from Duze) and set up a base operations camp at in school yard named Superlit Ilogretim Okulu.

0415 hrs while team sets up camp, 2 teams are formed consisting of 1 member Lifeline K-9 SAR and 1 member ORDOS (for translation and safety) (Christel Rosic [Lifeline K-9 SAR] + member from ORDOS, and Remmick Nasreddin [Lifeline K-9 SAR] + Can Yarman [ORDOS}), to go out and survey the damage and find out who is missing in each building, drawing maps to buildings and overall disaster assessment.

0530 return to base camp to report findings. Harry Oakes operated as the on site incident commander.

At 0540 Hrs. we deployed all search teams to perform K-9 SAR. Initially K-9-1 Oakes / Valorie searched behind gas station on North side of road where a large 5-story structure had collapsed. All search dogs independently were then brought in to double check SAR dog Valorie's alerts. We later learned that where the search dogs alerted, two live persons, a woman and a man, and two dead men were later pulled from the debris.

We then searched south of the main road at a site where a two-story structure had collapsed and the back of the home was on fire with a small fire burning in the back. The family stated that the mother was missing. SAR Dog Valorie located the woman’s remains inside the home under the buried debris pile near the front entrance.

We then traveled to another site east of the house where a 7-story structure had collapsed. Three persons were reported missing in this structure. Each search dog took a turn at searching the structure. We marked the location of where the search dogs indicated that the victims were buried and the local AKUT and ORDOS started digging. Later on in the day, we learned that all three bodies had been recovered where the dogs alerted. All were dead.

We then split into two teams. One team of 3 search dogs went to the East Side of the town. One team of 3 search dogs went to the West Side of the town. The next structure had reported 7 children buried. We crawled through the destroyed structure and located one live, six dead.

On the road parallel to but south of main road and north of temp hospital. We were asked to search two structures that had collapsed next to each other. The first complex was approximately an 8-story structure and we found 2 dead there. The next structure east was a large 7-story structure and one person was found dead there by the search dog teams.

We then were asked to search for a man missing in a building across from the post office. The search dogs below two levels of collapsed structure located him and he was dead.

Teams then searched a home just west of the temp. hospital site and found a dead 14 yo boy buried under the stairwell in his home.

We then searched a home SW of this site and found a 24 yo woman and a 55 yo woman crushed to death between the first floor and second floor of their home.

We then searched a café that had collapsed on the East end of town. We found 7 dead there. Both men and women. Killed by falling collapsed structure. Most appeared to have died from head, neck, and chest injuries.

We then searched another structure which had collapsed near the center of the city and located two live persons and one more dead.

We then searched a small house which had collapsed and in which there was a smoldering fire with a lot of smoke, and located one dead 24 yo man.

Later we learned that our dogs had located a total of 29 dead persons and five people alive to include one small child.

At 1700 Hrs. All K-9 teams were exhausted. We marked each site that we searched with a spray painted X with the date of 11-13-99 USA K-9 SAR Team and how many dead and alive found by the search dogs.

All teams debriefed with ORDOS, DSM, and the AKUT. In talking with these teams, we learned that our resources were not needed any further in the other nearby towns as all persons had been located and accounted for.

We then returned home to Istanbul. Unpacked our SAR Gear, cleaned the gear, SAR Dogs, selves. Wrote the diagrams and reports. Our mission was completed at 2200 Hrs. on 11-13-99.

11-14-99 1200 Hrs. All K-9 teams met and debriefed. Shared ideas for the next disaster and performed Critical Incident Stress Management and Debriefings. It was the thoughts of all involved that this was a highly successful mission due to many factors.

  1. The training and testing in all aspects of SAR to the Lifeline K-9 SAR Team by Mr. Oakes with his search dog Valorie from the USA.
  2. The ongoing training by the individual search dog handlers and their dogs in all aspects of search and rescue to include tracking, trailing, air scenting, live and dead victim searches, rappelling with the search dogs, gun training, water, wilderness, urban, day and night search and rescue. US&R (Urban Search and Rescue), disaster training.
  3. The immediate response by the search dogs and AKUT, DSM, ORDOS and military and medical people to the stricken areas.

See reports.

Statement from Mr. Harry E. Oakes Jr. International K-9 Search and Rescue Services:
“ I was very impressed by the response to the victims by the Turkish government. They did an outstanding job helping their people in this latest earthquake. Combined with the efforts of the AKUT, DSM, ORDOS and Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue services from Istanbul, I was very glad to be a part of the local rescue effort. Together we all made a difference.

Many lives were saved by the use of Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue locating the victims, and the AKUT, ORDOS, DSM, and local military and fire officials, digging the victims out, the medical teams treating the victims, and transporting them to the hospital. Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue dog teams proved in their fourth mission as a team, and their first large mission together, that they are a skilled useful resource.

They risked their lives many times, by crawling through unstable buildings with their brave search dogs at their sides, avoiding sharp jagged glass, sharp metal, falling debris, electrical wires, and aftershocks, to find the live victims, and helping locate the dead victims, so their families could have closure. The Turkish government should be honored and proud to have such great skilled search dog teams available to their resources known as the Lifeline K-9 Search and Rescue dog teams.”


Photographs and diagrams on file.

Action Recommended

All K-9 teams should be activated immediately with the AKUT / ORDOS / DSM, through the military, police, fire departments, or minister of health when the need arises for K-9 search dogs teams.

Rescue Personnel

Samy Nasreddin with SAR dog Dax K-9-1, (W) 90-212-653-8911, Burgaz Evleri
#40, Kemerburgaz, Istanbul, Turkey.

Remmick Nasreddin with SAR dog Echo K-9-4, 90-212-239-1663, Burgaz Evleri
#40, Kemerburgaz, Istanbul, Turkey.

Christel Rosic with SAR dog Cisor K-9-2, 90-212-239-9193, Lale Bayri Yolu
#32, Kemerburgaz, Istanbul, Turkey.

Ilija Rosic, K9-3, 90-212-239-8802/203, Lale Bayri Yolu #32, Kemerburgaz,
Istanbul, Turkey.

Gokhan Orucoglu, ST-1, 90-212-286-9275/76, Can Kent Sitesi, R Block, Daire
4, Maslak, Istanbul, Turkey.

Adrian Higgs with SAR dog Zeyna K-9-6, 90-216-326-0008, 0532-452-6562, Asim Us Sokak 16/1, Kiziltoprak, Istanbul, Turkey.

Ersel Yildrim with SAR dog Unique K-9-5, 90-312-398-1120, 3rd Street, 117/8 Bahceli Evler, Ankara, Turkey.

Harry E. Oakes Jr. with SAR dog Valorie K-9-1, From International K-9 Search and Rescue Services. PO Box # 30364, Portland, Oregon 97294. USA Telephone # 0-503-618-0497.  



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