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China: Around The Nation

Chinese police use inflatable turtle to rescue 13 people trapped by flood

With no rescue boats available, quick-thinking police officers use blow-up reptile to ferry residents to safety

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 2017, 4:26pm

The residents of a small community in central China owe their lives – or at least their dry clothes – to a group of quick-witted police officers and a giant inflatable turtle.

After heavy rains lashed a low-lying neighbourhood in the city of Liuyang, Hunan province, 13 people found themselves trapped in their homes on Sunday.

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The speed at which the waters rose created a potentially life-threatening situation, and police in Changsha, the Hunan capital, which administers Liuyang, knew they had to act fast and get the residents to safety.

“It was an emergency,” read a statement on their Weibo microblog. “There weren’t any boats available, so we had to improvise,” it said.

They found the answer in a local toy shop, in the form of a bright green inflatable turtle.

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While the rescue vessel was far from conventional, it was more than fit for purpose, and just two hours after it floated into service all 13 trapped residents, including several elderly people and children, had been evacuated.

“Sorry for our vessel being ... too cute,” police said. “But, most importantly, the people are all safe.”

The story was an instant hit on social media, with many people posting messages of praise for the officers involved.

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Other said the images of the people being rescued put them in mind of the passage from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, in which the central character and his disciples are carried across a river on the back of a turtle.