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About 100 dogs and cats have been evacuated from the abandoned town of Chaiten after it was evacuated after the volcano started activity at the beginning of May. At least other 400 are still in the buried in ashes and now flooded town. That without count horses and cattle. Others rescue operations are planned, but the volcano has the last word. Military personnel is distributing dog food on the streets to at least alleviate the situation.

To understand why pets where left behind you have to understand that this is a very isolated place with barely access by sea in Patagonia. Many people fled through Argentina so they were not allowed to take animals with them (actually there is a special permission to transport animals trough our neighbour country without the special papers usually required, that's the way dogs have being evacuated now). But in the moment the sea little barges were the only way of scape for many families and there were no space for pets, sad but true.

Chile Mounts Mission to Save Pets Stranded by Volcano

By Sebastian Boyd

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Chile's army and Environment MinisterAna Lya Uriarte led an operation to save more than a hundred pets left behind in the deserted Patagonian town of Chaiten after an erupting volcano forced the residents to flee.

A local official from the national emergency office joined the mission, the office said on its Web site. The emergency office had told activists on May 9 to ``stop worrying'' about the animals, Alejandra Cassino, the head of an animal protection coalition, told Bloomberg News.

About 150 pets were picked up, and as many as 500 animals remain in Chaiten, Cassino said in an interview today.

``We're very grateful to the minister, but there's a lot of work still to do,'' Cassino said.

The town will probably remain empty for another three months, Chilean Defense Minister Jose Goni told reporters today, in comments confirmed by ministry spokesman Luis Donas.

More than 4,000 inhabitants of Chaiten, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the volcano of the same name, were evacuated last week after the government obtained a court order allowing police to remove anyone found within 30 kilometers of the crater. The government will give evacuated families at least 500,000 pesos ($1,070) each, government spokesman Francisco Vidal yesterday.

Chile's lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, yesterday unanimously approved a motion calling on the government to evacuate Chaiten's pets. They called on the Interior Minister to include pets in emergency planning for future disasters.

Wrestling Cats

Television images of the rescue showed Uriarte wrestling with an armful of cats. All but about 10 of the saved animals were dogs, Cassino said.

``It's not easy to rescue animals,'' she said. ``The military personnel said rescuing the dogs in Chaiten was much simpler because they let people get close and it's easier to pick them up. There wasn't such a fight to get them onto the trucks or buses.''

The volcano started erupting on May 2 for the first time in 9,000 years, sending a plume of gas and debris as high as 19 miles into the sky.

Volcanic mud has caused a river ringing Chaiten to overflow, partially burying 40 homes in water and clay, the geological service said. The government will act ``like an insurance company'' for people who lost goods such as refrigerators or cookers, Vidal said.
About the rescue

The volcano

(sorry, all in Spanish)

9,796 Posts
Thanks for updating us on the volcano disaster. The only news we got here was about the people, which of course is paramount in importance, but I wondered about what happened to the animals. Glad Chili takes such interest in family pets!!!

Premium Member
16,941 Posts
Wow, scary! All that ash, like it was snow. Except snow is harmless.

It was nice to see the rescuers with the dogs and cats. Always makes me feel good to know that there are people who care and are ready to help.
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