Two dogs that fell into a sinkhole in Puebla are alive, but authorities are reluctant to attempt a rescue.
Spay, an eight-month-old pit bull, was playing with a white stray dog around 7 p.m. on Monday when they crossed the security fence surrounding the sinkhole and fell in.
The hole in Santa María Zacatepec, 20 kilometers northwest of Puebla city, measured 10 meters when it first emerged late last month, but has grown into a chasm, spanning 124 meters at its widest point.
Spay’s owner, Fátima Ortega Jiménez, lives with her family 200 meters from the sinkhole. Her sister Tania said she saw the dogs running toward it, but could not catch up in time to prevent them from falling in.
A photo has shown the dogs inside the hole and a nearby food vendor said she heard the dogs barking on Tuesday night, and that they responded to people’s shouts until at least Wednesday afternoon.
Ortega said she and her sister have petitioned to authorities to rescue the dogs, but that their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. “[Public safety officials] told us that a human life is worth more than a the life of a dog and that they couldn’t do anything … the said they didn’t know anything about it, and that they weren’t involved,” she said.
State Interior Minister Ana Lucía Hill Mayoral argued that any rescue operation could put human lives in danger. “The possibility of a rescue operation is being weighed, but it’s very complicated due to the risk it represents to a rescue team,” she said.
She added that there is a maxim that guides how to react to emergencies and natural disasters: “Never put another life at risk,” she said.
Ortega has asked an animal rescue organization for assistance. It said it would assess the viability of a rescue operation.
“We are all living things and we all live on the same planet. It is very unjust if it stays alive only to die of hunger. I hope they do something about it; there are specialists that I hope do me the favor of rescuing the two dogs,” Ortega added.
A family home is also at risk. The residence of the Sánchez Xalamihua family is on the very edge of the growing sinkhole which has already destroyed a bedroom and part of a wall of the house that sits on the edge of the property.
Meanwhile, a cumbia song about the sinkhole — it received 1.2 million views in four days — has caused some controversy, with some branding it insensitive to the Sánchez Xalamihua family.
Songwriter Armando Martínez Valdez, who wrote the song for the group Sin Razzon, has received complaints via social media.
“What will the family say — whose house is about to collapse — about this trashy video. Have some respect,” wrote one user.
“How is it possible to joke about someone else’s tragedy?” wrote another.
However, others appreciated it. “The intention was good, and it sounds good too,” commented one.