Johannesburg - A specialist team of police dog handlers and their highly trained K9 partners have been delayed in leaving the country as part of a humanitarian mission to earthquake-struck Nepal. It is understood that the dog handlers have been in flux since Monday, with their flights to Kathmandu delayed several times. On Thursday morning, the specialist team was still on South African soil, their efforts scuppered by an alleged delay in approval.The dogs are a vital component in the search and rescue effort because they are able to locate victims or bodies buried under tons of rubble.Without the aid of K9 search and rescue, conventional urban search and rescue technicians risk “flying blind”.ApprovalIt is understood that the handlers arrived in Johannesburg on Monday, and by Thursday had still not received the relevant authority to leave the country.The handlers refused to comment when approached by News24.Department of International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the Health Department was supposed to provide approval.Health department spokesperson Joe Maila said the department was not made aware of the situation."There shouldn't be a problem with letting them leave. I spoke to a manager... at the airport. They should just provide their details to officials there," he said.Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale could not immediately be reached for comment.