Special report: Strong Earthquake
Jolts SW China กกกก
BEIJING, May 19 -- It was more than 72 hours after the
quake and no cry for help could be heard from the rubble of Beichuan Middle
School amid the din of heavy machinery around.
A rescue team from Chongqing was doing a last search
on the school's collapsed main building, giving up hope of any survivors - when
a sniffer dog barked.
Firefighters conduct rescue operation
with search dogs at Mianzhu of southwest China's Sichuan Province on May
18, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
Rescuers started moving heavy concrete chunks at the
spot and two hours later, they found a girl in coma, her legs wounded badly, but
She was reportedly the last survivor found in the
The efficacy and efficiency of sniffer dogs have
become legion in the quake-hit areas of Sichuan, where they are often seen as
the last line of hope.
More than 100 are working day and night, searching
for signs of lingering life from corners and crevices that are beyond the reach
of human senses.
"I've had my dog ever since he was a couple of months
old but he's never been in such surroundings - the smell of bodies, the
aftershocks and endless noise of power generators and hydraulic machines," said
Qi Zhigang, keeper of Si Dao, a 6-year-old black Labrador.
A Member of the Japanese rescue team
search for buried people with the help of a sniffer dog at a collapsed
buidling in Qushan Town, seat of the worst-hit Beichuan county, southwest
China's Sichuan Province, May 18, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)
Qi, a firefighter from Jiangsu, has been in Beichuan
since last Thursday with a team accompanied by eight sniffer dogs.
"Si Dao has been searching on and on, and when he
detects something he barks and scratches the rubble," Qi said. "He eats one meal
per day and has slept only a couple of hours since we got here. He's really
Since Friday, Si Dao has managed to locate a few
survivors but most of those he sniffed out were dead, Qi added.
As time runs out for survivors, rescue workers are
pinning their hopes on dogs to guide men and machines to trapped people.
In Dujiangyan, a rescue team with seven dogs from
Shandong province has soldiered on for almost 80 straight hours since last
Tuesday and almost scoured the entire city.
Many dogs have suffered injuries on their mouths or
paws by broken glass, steel bars or nails in the debris. Typically, their
keepers and they have a couple of hours' nap a day in a tent and then get back
Silver Tiger, one of the seven sniffer dogs from
Yunnan province, even caught a cold last Friday after strenuous efforts - his
keeper fed him pills and believes he will recover soon.
Then, there is the mental stress. A dog from Zhejiang
province started sobbing when searching through a building in the city of
Rescuers then found two bodies underneath the debris
the dog pointed to.
"The dog has been taught to find people alive. He's
never seen so many dead and he must be very grief-stricken," the dog's keeper
There is no official count how many people have been
saved by the dogs but they certainly had a hand to play in most of the miracle
In the hard-hit city of Dujiangyan, the rescue team
from Shandong sent two dogs to a collapsed factory building last Thursday after
hearing there might be survivors. In just five minutes, the dogs pointed to four
targets in the debris; and after four hours, rescuers dug out one survivor and
"Every dog we brought has performed well," said Tang
Hu, head of a fire brigade from Qingdao, Shandong province. His dogs have helped
find dozens trapped in debris in Dujiangyan, including a pregnant woman and her
mother under a collapsed 5-story building.
The dogs have become heroes in the city. Many
residents are refusing to clear debris unless a dog has confirmed there is
nobody left underneath. Some families have cut the rations of their pet dogs to
supply the professionals.
The canine efforts are certainly being recognized and
The Ministry of Public Security ordered 100 pairs of
special sheaths to be sent to Sichuan to protect the dogs from further injuries.
China Eastern Airlines ignored rules for two dogs
from Jiangsu: The rescue team did not carry cages for two dogs which should go
into the freight cabin; instead, they traveled the same way passengers do.
The dogs mainly came from three top bases: The
Beijing Military Command, the China Seismological Bureau and the fire department
in the northeastern city of Shenyang apart from fire departments around the
There was in international flavor over the weekend as
dogs from Japan, Russia, Singapore and South Korea landed together with their
handlers and specialist equipment.
Private organizations, too, are keen to contribute to
the rescue mission.
The Hangzhou Fire-fighting Sniffer Dogs Association -
arguably the only such private society in the country - sent a German shepherd
and a golden retriever just hours after the quake.
(Source: China Daily)