The Express and Telegraph Monday, February 20, 1911


This article is titled: CITIES OF THE DEAD



Port Darwin, February 19. Eastern newspapers are to stand by the steamer Empire. A diary of the plague as follows is extracted from the Japan "Chronicle" of January 26. The extract begins:—Horrors of the Plague.—Japan have been seen by the numerous telegraphic reports appearing in our columns during the past few days, the epidemic of plague in Manchuria so far from diminishing is spreading with increasing virulence. The center of the epidemic is in North Manchuria, and principally in Puchatien, the Chinese part of Harbin, but with the migration of Chinese southwards, the disease has spread to Mukden, Danen, and Chefoo. and according to the latest reports Pekin itself is threatened. With a view to preventing its further progress, the authorities have resorted to the extreme measure of holding up Chinese passengers southward bound and prohibiting further passage to them, or sending them back. We recently published a Saint Petersburg telegram describing the terrible conditions in Harbin, where 150 deaths daily are reported to be taking place among the Chinese.


Harbin papers to hand confirm this report and publish some shocking details of the scenes to be witnessed ' on every hand. These scenes as described by eye-witnesses speak eloquently of the factors which are so favorable to the spread of the epidemic, and against which adequate measures

have not yet been taken, by the Chinese authorities.


Bodies Thrown to the Dogs.


A party of twelve Russians had occasion to go through a portion of Puchatien, the Chinese town, which journey they accomplished on horseback. In the first street, they were horrified to see seven dead bodies lying on the ground surrounded by a gaping crowd of 30 or 40 Chinese. Few steps further on they passed four dead bodies in the open drains on either side of the road. The party had not proceeded far beyond this death center when they were confronted by another terrible spectacle, a Chinese vendor of nuts expiring before their eyes after vomiting over the wares on the tray in front of him. Apparently quite unaware of the danger the Chinese passers-by calmly helped themselves to the nuts, some of which they proceeded to eat, carrying the remainder away in their pockets. Further on a dead Chinese was ruthlessly thrown out of a shop, and left on the public road. A Chinese policeman when asked why he did not take any measures to remove the body said it was not his business; and arriving at the bank of the Sungari the party found themselves face to face with a revolting scene. Three dead bodies lay on the shore, two entirely naked, and the other only half clothed. Two dogs were gnawing at the head of one of the corpses, and a number of crows were pecking at the others. On the way to the steamer which they intended to board the party encountered no fewer than 36  bodies in hastily dug holes or in the open drains. The Chinese engineer on the vessel told them that from 150 to 200 persons were dying in the city every day and that these comprised not only the poor but also merchants and officials.  The party who had not anticipated passing through such dangerous spots, offered to submit to disinfecting operations, but the Chinese officers said it was not necessary.


An Island of Horrors.


Two other Russian eye-witnesses, members of the City Council, specially paid a visit to the Chinese quarters to verify the report that dead bodies were being thrown into the Sungari. On landing from a boat near the Chinese Customs-house they saw open graves with limbs protruding from them. There were no indications that disinfecting operations had been carried out on the graves.  The worst scenes were on a small island opposite the Drizin mill, on which the visitors also landed. Almost the first object they encountered there was a body, which was being eaten by dogs. only the head and upper part of the trunk remaining. Portions of the limbs had evidently been eaten during life. A number of roughly dug graves had been torn open by dogs, and the plague-infected corpses were being eaten by these animals or by carrion crows. All over the island, there were traces of human flesh. The island is very low, and in the spring is liable to be submerged by the Using River. In these circumstances, unless the corpses are removed, they will be carried down the stream when the river rises. A Chinese informed the visitors that a number of bodies had already been carried away by the river.


The Authorities Take no Action.


On the mainland bodies were being removed from houses and carried along the streets in carts, without any attempt, to prevent the contiguity of passers-by, and the streets were as thronged as usual. From these descriptions, it may be seen how easily the epidemic can spread. The bodies are thrown into the streets or open drains and touched by the passers-by, who must often either catch the contagion themselves or carry it on their clothes to infect others with whom they come into contact. The disease must also be transmitted by dogs, crows, and rodents. Moreover, there is another animal common in North Manchuria, which, is known to transmit the diseases. This is a species of marmot, called the tarbagan by the Russians, which is hunted for its fur. The tarbagan is attacked by plague, and if a hunter comes into contact with them at such times he is almost certain to be infected. The Russian authorities are endeavoring to prevent the epidemic from spreading in the Russian city, but their efforts are rendered nugatory by the free circulation of Chinese, who enter and leave the plague-stricken areas freely. An attempt to induce the Chinese authorities to adopt concerted measures has not proved successful so far, and an agitation to isolate the whole of the Chinese city, preventing the egress and ingress of Chinese, has grown very strong. This measure was tried very successfully, it appears, at Manchuria, in the small town on the frontier where the outbreak originated, and now there is not a single case left. The Harbin City Council is loth to take this measure in the case of Harbin out of respect, it is stated, for the Chinese national amour propre but doubtless, this very necessary step will be resorted to shortly.


Houses Nailed Up.


The Japan "Chronicle" stated on January 18:—We learn from a Changehung dispatch that the Japanese and Chinese authorities have agreed to co-operate in the work of stamping out plague, and commissioners to direct the operations have been appointed from among the Japanese and Chinese officials at Changehung. Seven isolated buildings have been constructed at Changehung by the South Manchurian Railway Company, with accommodation for 500 persons. Between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, last 10 deaths from plague were reported in Changehung, and two cases of the epidemic were reporting the railway zone of the city during the period. A Dairen dispatach reports that another case of plague has occurred among the Chinese there, and the police authorities have nailed up about a dozen Chinese houses with 80 occupants adjoining the house where the plague broke- out.  On January 16 three more cases of plague took place among the Chinese at Dairen. One of the victims was found lying in a street, another was a passenger on a steamer for Chefoo, and the third was found dead in a house. All the Chinese living in his house have fled, and their whereabouts are unknown. The same dispatch says that the Taoti of Hurbin has been suddenly dismissed from his office, presumably on account of His neglect to take measures for the prevention of the plague. The total number of deaths from plague in Harbin between the outbreak of the disease and January 15 is given at 1,453 by a Chang Chung dispatch to the Osaka "Mainichi," and 2,210 Chinese were under treatment on January 16 at the Russian isolation station.


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