Live pigs being buried in South Korea, 2011. Image Source: MfA Blog.
In terms of staring at the word 'Apocalypse' and watching it suddenly and quietly take on new depth of meaning, this report is worse than the dead birds and fish in January (my updated blog post on that story is here). Thanks to a Seoul-based friend of mine, who just told me about the horrific attempts in South Korea to quell simultaneous outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease (which began on November 28 with infected pigs in the city of Andong in North Gyeongsang province) and bird flu. Most of the country's livestock - some 3 million animals and roughly 5 million birds - have been buried alive in rapidly dug pits in the past three weeks.
From a Mercy for Animals report on February 3:
In less than three weeks, due to an ongoing outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, South Korea has buried over 1.8 million pigs and 146,000 cattle, as well as thousands of goats and deer. The total number of animals killed during this outbreak is now at approximately 2.9 million, with an estimated 90% of them buried alive. At the same time, avian bird flu outbreaks have been occurring in South Korea. Over 5.4 million chickens and ducks have been killed, many also buried alive. Korea Animal Rights Advocates says that approximately 100,000 animals have been buried alive each day, and estimates that of the 8.3 million animals culled since November 29, 2010, 97% have been buried alive. The government has even begun to offer up national forests as burial sites as local authorities are running out of burial space. The South Korean government could only afford to euthanize cattle for the first month of the outbreak and then ran out of supplies. Vaccination efforts have also been minimal, with less than 60% of cattle receiving the vaccine and only 7.6% of pigs.
Another report here, gives stats on the cull, which includes a human toll: "Seven public officials have died and 36 have been severely injured in culling operations. About 100 officials were slightly injured. Several farmers committed suicide after their farms became infected." One provincial government has been offering therapy to traumatized health workers (report here):
South Korean officials said Monday they would offer therapy for workers traumatised by massive culling of animals as they battle the country's worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The midwestern province of South Chungcheong said it would offer stress treatment to health officials, soldiers, police and farmworkers who took part in the culling of more than 90,000 cattle and pigs in the province so far. "We've heard reports of people suffering from insomnia, fearfulness, hallucinating sound and lack of appetite," a provincial government official who declined to be named told AFP.
Culling birds, South Korea, 2011. Image Source: MfA Blog.
Pigs buried alive in South Korea. Image Source: Photo © 경북매일신문 & kbmaeil.com via KARA.
Memorials have been held for the livestock, see the videos below (sources here and here and here).
Memorial Held for Culled Livestock in South Korea
Uploaded by NTDTV.
Video Source: Youtube.
While the animal cull is devastating to the livestock industry, the bird cull is a massive, deeply troubling effort to prevent the onset of a global epidemic. In 1997, experts feel that a deadly bird flu was blocked by this means, when the first human case of A/H5N1 infection was reported: "Influenza A/H5N1, a severe strain of bird flu, was first found to infect humans during poultry outbreaks in Hong Kong in 1997. Eighteen humans were infected and six died. A mass culling of all poultry in Hong Kong may have prevented a human A/H5N1 pandemic (global epidemic) at that time."
From this KARA report, a backlist of English-language links on this topic:
English newspapers in Korea seem reluctant to provide evidence of live burial while there are many more reports of live burial in Korean language newspapers.
Dec. 21, 2010: Foot and Mouth Spreading
Dec. 23, 2010: Govt. Still Contemplation Vaccinations
Dec. 25, 2010: Govt. Finally Starts Vaccinations
Dec. 28, 2010: Fight Against Food and Mouth Picking Up
Jan. 3, 2011: Korea Expands Vaccinations to Stem FMD
Jan. 3, 2011: Pigs Burial Raises Concerns Over Water Contamination
Jan. 6, 2011: Massive Culling As FMD Spreads
Jan. 6, 2011: Govt. Finally Orders Pig Vaccinations
Jan. 12, 2011: Healthy Animals Are Rushed to Slaughter
Jan. 12, 2011: More FMD Cases in Central Korea
Jan. 14, 2011: Korea Seeks to Regain FMD-Free Status
Jan. 16, 2011: New Disease Quarantine Team Will Be Set Up
Jan. 17, 2011: Live Burial Brings International Boycott of Korean Goods
Jan. 17, 2011: Alternative to FMD Culling Must Be Found
Jan. 17, 2011: Disease-free Farm Due Farmer's Own Prevention Methods
Jan. 17, 2011: Korea Gaining Over Disease Amid Harsh Criticism
Jan. 17, 2011: Live Burial Provokes Mass Uproar
Jan. 21, 2011: Demonstration Over Live Burials
Jan. 21, 2011: Rare Avian Flu Found For the First Time in 50 Years
Jan. 25, 2011: The Massacre Needs Attention
Jan. 25, 2011: Government Admits Faults in Countermeasures
Jan. 26, 2011: FMD and Mass Movement for Lunar New Year
Jan. 29, 2011: [Editorial] Brazen response to the foot-and-mouth outbreak
Jan. 30, 2011: Is Full Compensation Causing A Moral Problem?
Jan. 30, 2011: Eerie Silence Reigns Over FMD-hit Villages