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Searching for Slightest Traces of Life in Haiti

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Seven days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, chances to find survivors are slim. However, international rescuers including the Chinese team are continuing their unabated efforts to look for even the slightest traces of life under rubbles.

The Chinese team has concluded their work at the headquarters of the UN Stabilization Mission to Haiti, which is undergoing quick clean-up. Although the Chinese rescuers have not received any new assignment from the UN mission, they have actively moved to the badly destroyed area around Carrefour to continue search and excavation, which put their own physical and psychological limits to test.

Under the tense security situation, the Chinese rescuers and medical workers have to be escorted by armored vehicles and the riot squad of the Chinese peacekeeping police in Haiti.

Five gun shots were heard outside the barracks of the Chinese riot squad Monday night. Local police officers later informed the Chinese peacekeepers of the gunbattle between the police and prison breakers, who have run away from the demolished national prison.

The earthquake has aggravated the miseries of the Caribbean country, which has long been plagued by poverty, constant hurricanes and internal political turmoils. The inferno-like streets, long queues of UN trucks carrying relief materials, US military planes humming overhead, and frolic children remaining happy constitute an undescribable scene of the aftermath of the disaster. For those who died in the earthquake, it is lucky to rest in coffins.

Fighting the rigorous working conditions, the Chinese rescuers reached the 23rd building in the Carrefour area. Braving possible aftershocks, they got into apertures in rubbles, shouting while listening for possible responses by survivors, hoping miracles would appear.

The Chinese rescuers brought with them three sniffer dogs from Beijing -- "Tiger-like," "Hope" and "NONO."

"We are looking for some slightest traces of life and we hope that we can find survivors," said Wang Zhiqiu, vice team leader of the Chinese rescue team.

"Local civilians told us that seven people are buried inside. We are trying to find a bit evidence of life with technical measures," Wang said.

But miracles failed to appear. No life was detected in the collapsed building in half an hour.

"It appears that the possibility is decreasing, because a long time has passed and the temperature is pretty high," Wang said.

"Nonetheless, we are to go all out and use all possible means to search for even the slightest evidence of life," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency January 20, 2010)