By: SARWELL Q.MENIANO
TACLOBAN CITY – The task force on cadaver collection asked the United States to send sniffing K-9 detection dogs to this city, as authorities struggle to retrieve dead bodies in rubbles more than two months after the onslaught of supertyphoon Yolanda.
With the endorsement of the Regional Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, the task force, headed by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), sent last week their formal request to the United States embassy in Manila.
BFP Regional Director Sr. Supt. Pablito Cordeta, task force head, said 2,540 bodies have so far been retrieved in Tacloban City since November 15, following the recovery of 11 more decomposing bodies from January 8 to 11.
“Presently, we just depend on visuals in our retrieval operation. We badly need the expertise of sniffing dogs especially that they are the same teams that responded in the World Trade Center bombing in the United States,” Cordeta told Leyte Samar Daily Express.
Two weeks after the storm, foreign volunteers from Holland, South Korea and New York brought with them their trained dogs to help in the retrieval operations. These volunteers left Tacloban on November 30.
“With the help of sniffing dogs, we’re able to recover about a thousand bodies in a week. The cadaver collection has slowed down when they left. We are hoping the US government will favourably respond to our request,” Cordeta added.
“These dogs are really trained to locate any parts of a dead body that are under debris.”
The team has been focusing their retrieval operation in coastal villages of the city were debris clearing is still ongoing.
After retrieval of each body, the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) documents the cadaver. Bodies would then be transported to the mass grave site in Suhi village for examination of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The task force is composed of 20 members from the BFP and PNP.
Cordeta declined to give estimates as to how many bodies the task force has to retrieve from debris in Tacloban City.
The Eastern Visayas Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has recorded 5,803 casualties as of mid-January with 1,729 missing since Yolanda struck the region on Nov.8, 2013.