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A Dog’s Chance: Finding Gobi the Desert Dog

It was the story that warmed everyone’s heart: the Australian runner Leonard who found a lifelong friend in a stray dog who joined him on his 155-mile marathon across China. But now Gobi has gone missing and Leonard is calling on Weibo netizens to help him find back his four-legged friend.

Manya Koetse

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It was the story that warmed everyone’s heart: the Australian runner Leonard who found a lifelong friend in a stray dog who joined him on his 155-mile marathon across China. But now Gobi has gone missing and Leonard is calling on Weibo netizens to help him find back his four-legged friend.


UPDATE 24.08.2016: GOBI HAS BEEN FOUND!!!

The story of Australian marathon runner Dion Leonard and a stray dog from China made international headlines this summer. The Edinburgh-based marathon runner was unexpectedly joined in his China marathon by a little stray dog who seemed determined to stick with him after hanging around the runners’ camp on the first day of the Gobi March.

The hosting city of the Gobi March was Hami (aka Kumul), in the province Xinjiang, in the far west of China.

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The two ran together for a large part of the Gobi March, a 250-kilometre run across mountain and desert, around the Hami region in the eastern part of Xinjiang. The dog even stayed with the runner at night and never left his side.

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The runner and the dog turned out to be inseparable, and after the marathon, Leonard was determined to raise the funds to bring the dog he named ‘Gobi’ back home with him. He started a fundraising through Crowdfunder to cover the costs to get the little dog to Scotland, which would be before Christmas when the quarantine process was completed.

But on August 16, Leonard shared an unexpected update on his Bring Gomi Home Facebook page; the little Gobi went missing in Urumqi during a stop in her 4-month quarantine process. Urumqi is the capital city of Xinjiang province, about 600 kilometers (±370 miles) from Hami/Kumul, where the Gobi March started and ended.

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The runner immediately decided to take the airplane from Scotland to Urumqi to find his dog, sharing on Facebook: “Finding Gobi ?…Needing nothing short of a miracle,on my way to hopefully make it happen.”

Yesterday, Leonard posted: “34hrs on the go with no sleep since I left Edinburgh, flyers out in Urumqi & finding lots of strays but not Gobi yet. ”

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By now, the search for Gobi has also been covered by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Weibo on August 21st, after which the story was shared by many others, from China News to Global Times.

Although many netizens support Leonard in his search for Gobi, there are also those who wonder how the dog could go missing in the first place. “How could they just ‘lose’ him?”, one netizen wonders.

“I’ve seen this so many times that people trust their friends to look after their dog and then it runs off. You should really only entrust particularly responsible people with it,” another person comments.

“I just hope Gobi’s safe,” other netizens write: “Sweet little Gobi, you will soon be found!”

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Meanwhile, on Facebook, Dion Leonard posts: “The search for Gobi continues. It’s hard to know where to look with such a large city and so many people.”

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He continues: “We have a small group of volunteers helping and whilst we have had lots of lookalike Gobi sightings we haven’t found the real Gobi yet.”

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Sudden Ground Collapse at Metro Station in Xiamen

A sudden collapse occurred near Xiamen’s Lucuo station, just two weeks after a similar incident took place in Guangzhou.

Manya Koetse

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In the evening of December 12, Xiamen’s Lvcuo (Lǚcuò 吕厝) metro station became a breaking news topic in Chinese media after a ground collapse incident occurred at a nearby intersection, followed by a major flood in the Xiamen subway.

Xiamen, Fujian Province, is one of China’s major coastal cities. According to Xiamen Metro News, the collapse happened at 21:52 local time.

At time of writing, rescue teams are still investigating the scene. It is unclear if people have been trapped or injured due to the collapse.

An apparent dashcam video shared by Sina News and People’s Daily on Weibo shows the moment right before the sudden collapse.

The video captures how the road is relatively busy at the time of collapsing, and at least one car can be seen crashing into the sinkhole.

Other footage shows that the Xiamen metro line is currently flooded (also see video in this tweet).

The scene of the collapse at 0:10 local time.

The metro station where this incident occurred is relatively new. Xiamen’s metro line was first opened in late December 2017.

Just two weeks ago, another major ground collapse accident occurred at the construction site of a metro line in Guangzhou. Three people remain missing after the incident.

On Thursday night local time, the Xiamen metro collapse was the number one trending topic on social media platform Weibo. Many netizens commenting on the incident express worries about the safety of roads and construction sites in China.

Update (Dec 13): According to the latest Chinese media reports, the drivers of two cars who were at the scene at the moment of the ground collapse have both been recused. One female pedestrian who also fell into the sinkhole is receiving medical treatment..

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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