Sniffer dog rescuers return from volunteer mission to Lebanon

The expert dog handlers, pictured at Malaga Airport, helped to look for survivors in Beirut .
The expert dog handlers, pictured at Malaga Airport, helped to look for survivors in Beirut . / ÑITO SALAS
  • After the huge explosion in Beirut's port last week, members of the GERCCMA charity, including Malaga firefighters, flew out to help

A group of local firefighters and rescue workers from Andalucía returned to Malaga Airport on Monday after flying out to Beirut to help find survivors after the huge explosion there last week. The members of the specialist sniffer-dog rescue charity, GERCCMA, and of the CPB Malaga provincial fire brigade had offered their services to the Lebanese authorities for the crucial hours after a disaster that are still available to reach anybody trapped in rubble.

One of the group, Jair Pereira, said on social media that the men had returned "having given everything".

After delays getting to work while paperwork was sorted out to allow them to enter Lebanon, the men from Malaga, Seville and Granada provinces helped the international rescue operation until last Sunday.

Pereira was grateful for the support the volunteers had received on the ground from local residents in Beirut but regretted that nobody had been found alive by the Spanish team. "Too much energy in the explosion," he explained.

He added that the Lebanese navy had moved them to a military base last Saturday for their safety as anti-government demonstrations grew in the country. After meeting with the Spanish embassy and other international groups, they decided to fly back the next day.

Some 200 people are reported to have died in the blasts caused by stored explosive material in Beirut port last week.

Dog rescue charity

The GERCCMA charity was founded in 2010. It brings together volunteer specialist handlers of dogs experienced in the Arcon method of canine training in order to find people trapped in rubble, missing persons or hidden explosives.

The group's members have been involved in other humanitarian missions to disaster zones around the world.