Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Colombian Air Force helicopter helps dig out victim

A rescue team recovers a body from a car trapped in a landslide in Cinchona, 70 km (44 miles) north of San Jose, January 12, 2009. (Photo: Reuters/Carlos Ulate)by Uri Ridelman

On Monday morning, with the help of a Colombian Air Force helicopter and after almost three hours of hard but careful work, two Red Cross workers and a fireman managed to recover the body of Rafael Herrera Esquivel from under a landslide.

The rescue team was suspended from a helicopter as it dug out the body of Herrera, 47, who was buried in his car on a steep incline. The vertical rescue had to be carried out from the helicopter because the car was literally hanging off the cliff and buried under tons of earth.

A rescue team uses a helicopter to recover a body from a car trapped in a landslide in Cinchona, 70 km (44 miles) north of San Jose, January 12, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Ministry of Public Security/Handout)The main concern for the rescue officials was the threat of another landslide due to the constant aftershocks that are still hitting the epicenter area of the January 8 earthquake and the unstability of the slope.

Herrera's body was discovered on Sunday by a searcher that noticed a white piece of metal protruding near a steep incline. Risking his life, the searcher managed to get close enough to see a hand with a ring on it. After taking the ring off and giving it to the authorities it was possible to identify the victim.

A Colombian Soldier hangs from a helicopter as he uses a shovel to dig out a car trapped in a landslide in Cinchona, 70 km (44 miles) north of San Jose, January 12, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Ministry of Public Security/Guillermo Solano)Before the recovery was carried out a Colombian soldier examined the area suspended from the helicopter to dig the car out and evaluate the complexity of the operation.

Information from newswires, La Nacion and Diario Extra was used in this article.

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