Photographer's Note

I shot this picture on one of two main streets of Danang city: Bach Dang Street. For some reason, butchers don’t use Han Market to do their business. Instead, they spread a plastic sheet along the pavement and block traffic to run a chaotic market, obviously under the ignorance of local authorities. Please don’t ask for orderly activity or sanitation. This is the third of the set of postings regarding the current epidemic that had spread to the major pig farming area in many provinces of Vietnam.

Yesterday, I have shared with you a report by Reuters, ”…pig raisers in Quang Nam province had thrown hundreds of dead pigs into a local river, causing serious water pollution near the UNESCO-recognized tourist town of Hoi An.” This description seems too hard to believe to our friends Yuan and Nicol. Without some more details, my recent note sounds like an overdosed exaggeration to the real situation.

Today, I am offering a “touch” translation of a reportage published by local media about how terrible the situation is, with the hope that involved residents would realize the important factor of hygiene in the fight against the deadly epidemic.

Groping for rotten carcasses of infected pigs at the center of “blue ear” epidemic

After several arrangements, we were finally able to follow the search team into their task at the center of the epidemic in Quang Nam province: Binh Dao commune of Thang Binh district.

“We were only afraid that you cannot stand the putrid smell. If you go, you should learn to hold your breath when in need…” team-leader Do Hung hesitantly said.

Without telling more about the task, Hung and his two members pushed out their little boat along Truong Giang river to start an another day collecting carcasses of pigs. Before the trip, he threw to me a VND2,000-mask (US12.5˘) supplied by the government. There was not a single life-vest onboard.

A day to search for rotten corpses of dead pigs has begun. The small boat wormed its way through the water hyacinths taller than our heads. The putrid smell was thick in the air. Parting aside the water hyacinths, we saw two swollen corpses of pigs about over 200 lbs/each that have been disintegrated.

Hung managed to load the corpse onto boat using an iron rake, but the load was too heavy and being rotten. As the rake touched it, the whole pig fell to several small portions that sparked off a fetid smell.

The pieces of livid flesh crumbled. Unable to pick the whole corpse, Hung jumped into the water and asked for the sackcloth. He then drove the pieces of decomposing flesh into it and tied the bag before lifting it aboard.

The entire speechless team was holding breath — only looks and nods as communication.

One more corpse half afloat half sunk amid the water hyacinths. As the rake touched it, a flock of buzzing flies soared into the air and landed on the faces of the searchers. The submerged part scattered into water, the floating part contained a mix-up of swarming larvae and worms that made our hair stand on end.

To collect such a rotten corpse, the entire team had to busy themselves up to an hour to spay neutralizing chemical and to pick up piece by piece from water into bag, and to transport to a burying location.

Within a stretch of 1 km over Truong Giang river, they have collected 8 carcasses of decomposed pigs. After landing, they must select the back roads without population to transport the corpses to burying spot. Performing this voluntary task, they received no appreciations but the complaint and even the blame from people about bringing in the stink smell.

By mid-day when they came to a popular restaurant for lunch, as seeing the chicken dish, they could not get rid of the image of the rotten pigs with larvae and worms. Along with the stench stuck to garment, the reporter could not help heaving up and abandoning the meal. (By Vu Trung, VietnamNet)

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