This post is a tribute to the Spanish Armed Forces and their Military Emergencies Unit, whose members lent support to the people of Mexico after the earthquake of September 19, 2017. ¡Muchas gracias, compañeros!
After the 7.1-degree earthquake of Mexico of 19 September, several countries sent their rescue and relief teams to help to search for survivors in collapsed buildings. Rescuers from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, or Spain, along with their search and rescue dogs, came to several Mexican towns and cities to lend support.
Spain sent to Mexico a team of the Military Unit of Emergencies (UME), formed by 54 soldiers and four dogs, to collaborate with the Mexican rescue services. The personnel carried to Mexico brought several tools for the rescue tasks, like cameras that allow to see through the hollows in the rubble, geophones for tracking large areas of land, and pneumatic cushions and hydraulic wedges to move loads. Additionally, there were four dogs, along with their respective guides, specialized in the localization of alive people, and corpses.
Spanish rescuers have been doing their job in one office block in central Mexico City, located in the street Alvaro Obregon 286. It is considered the deadliest site, with over 35 bodies recovered and more still missing. Families have been camping out for days as they waited for news of their loved ones, as dozens of rescuers were searching the rubble.
Some recue teams have been leaving Mexico this last week. For instance, the personnel that came from South Korea received a loud farewell applause when leaving the buildings, along with “Viva México” shouts and “Cielito Lindo” songs.
However, the Spanish team will stay in Mexico. “We will stay for as long as it takes to do our job”, said the UME captain Juan Carlos Peñas, who indicated that it will be the Mexican authorities who will decide when to stop the work. Initially, the Spanish team was devoted to find the corpse of a Spanish citizen, Jorge Gómez Varo, an architect of 33 who was found on Friday. However, the Mexican authorities “can send us to some other task”, Peñas added. In the following video, you can see how Peñas remembers that the rescuers remain in top of the rubble, “helping the Mexican people”.
The same Spanish Military Unit of Emergencies (UME) was carried also to Chile in early 2017 to help to fight the forest fires, the worst in decades. The members of UME were received a hero’s farewell in the airport, when leaving the country.