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HomeWorldKilian, the sniffer dog, searches for survivors after the Moroccan earthquake

Kilian, the sniffer dog, searches for survivors after the Moroccan earthquake

Kilian, the sniffer dog, searches for survivors after the Moroccan earthquake


A golden retriever named Kilian is part of a Swedish rescue team in Morocco after the earthquake. He is a veteran of past disaster rescue missions and his handlers say he helped find 18 people alive under rubble in Turkey earlier this year.

Carol Guzy for NPR


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Carol Guzy for NPR


A golden retriever named Kilian is part of a Swedish rescue team in Morocco after the earthquake. He is a veteran of past disaster rescue missions and his handlers say he helped find 18 people alive under rubble in Turkey earlier this year.

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Carol Guzy for NPR

TNIRTE, Morocco — The men of the village pause, lean on their shovels, sweating, and pray for the sweet sound of a dog’s bark.

A hush falls over a crowd of survivors surrounding a two-story mound of red clay bricks and rubble – all that remains of their homes – as sniffer dogs scamper around, wearing special booties to protect their paws.

They are searching for the last missing person from this town: a nine-year-old girl named Shaima. Her father, Mohammed Abarada, has been digging with his own hands for days.

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“He’s in shock,” says the man’s sister-in-law, Latifa Abarada. “He lost his first wife a few years ago and his second in the earthquake.”

More than 50 people have died in this town of just a few hundred inhabitants.

Kilian searches through the rubble in Tnirte for the last missing person from this city: a nine-year-old girl named Shaima.

Carol Guzy for NPR


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Carol Guzy for NPR


Kilian searches through the rubble in Tnirte for the last missing person from this city: a nine-year-old girl named Shaima.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Kilian’s paws are equipped with special boots for his mission in Tnirte.

Carol Guzy for NPR


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Carol Guzy for NPR


Kilian’s paws are equipped with special boots for his mission in Tnirte.

Carol Guzy for NPR

For the first 48 hours after the September 8 earthquake in Morocco, Abarada and her neighbors had no outside help. They themselves removed the survivors and bodies from the rubble, including that of his wife.

Now teams of sniffer dogs have arrived from Europe. The dogs are trained to detect signs of life under rubble.

One of them, a golden retriever named Kilian, lives in Sweden and travels the world. Earlier this year, he participated as part of an earthquake relief mission in Turkey, where his caregivers say he helped find 18 people alive under the rubble.

It will only bark if it senses that someone is alive.

Kilian and his handlers in Tnirte.

Carol Guzy for NPR


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Carol Guzy for NPR


Kilian and his handlers in Tnirte.

Carol Guzy for NPR

All digging stops as Kilian climbs over a pile of rubble. Survivors, rescuers and foreign journalists gather around him. The dog circles the rubble and focuses on what was once a second-floor bathroom, where Abarada believes he last saw her daughter.

Everyone holds their breath, listening for any small hint of a dog barking. A rooster crows in the distance. Someone coughs nervously.

Kilian sniffs, but remains silent.

After a few rounds of this, Kilian’s caretakers give him water and continue on to the next village. There are many more towns like this, where help has not yet arrived.

As night falls, Spanish rescuers discover little Shaima’s body and her father finally stops digging.

Kilian rests by his water bowl in Tnirte on Tuesday.

Carol Guzy for NPR


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Carol Guzy for NPR


Kilian rests by his water bowl in Tnirte on Tuesday.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Kilian seen through the car windshield.

Carol Guzy for NPR


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Kilian seen through the car windshield.

Carol Guzy for NPR

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