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Cover Stories Series 2011> Wenchuan Quake:Three Years Later> Wenchuan in Retrospect> 2008
UPDATED: May 16, 2008 NO. 21 MAY 22, 2008
Hi-tech Rescue

Following the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province, rescue teams from across China have been racing against time to save as many people in the disaster area as possible. Among them is a squad clad in eye-catching orange uniforms whose members are better equipped than other rescuers and demonstrate higher levels of skill.

It is the country's best-trained earthquake emergency response team-- the China National Earthquake Disaster Emergency Response and Rescue Team, also known as the China International Search and Rescue Team when it performs missions abroad.

The 214-member team, consisting of earthquake experts, medical workers and professional rescuers, arrived in Dujiangyan, a city near the epicenter in Wenchuan County, on May 13. Up to 10 p.m. on May 14, the squad had successfully rescued 28 people from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

During the operation the emergency rescue team used advanced life detectors. The detectors helped them to find signs of life beneath the wrecked buildings so they knew exactly where to dig.

According to Zhang Hongwei, a spokesman from the China Earthquake Administration, the emergency rescue team also has 12 sniffer dogs, two earthquake rescue vehicles and one command vehicle, which have all been dispatched to the disaster area.

This was one of the few times the emergency rescue team has been called into action in China, but it is known internationally for a number of overseas missions.

Established in April 2001, the squad made its debut on the international stage during Algeria earthquake disaster search and rescue operations in May 2003 and succeeded in rescuing a survivor. Over the past seven years, it has been to Algeria, Iran, Indonesia and Pakistan eight times to perform rescue operations, and to Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore and Switzerland to either receive training or participate in joint rescue rehearsals. The rescuers are mainly from a field engineer regiment of the Beijing Military Area Command.


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