(Heerbrugg/Beijing, June 4th, 2008) 700 people could be saved in Cao Ping after their message “SOS700” had been discovered in imagery collected with a Leica ADS40 airborne digital sensor.

In the aftermath of the devastating May 12th earthquake in Sichuan, China, local authorities coordinating disaster relief efforts required a fast, accurate and comprehensive overview of the damage and affected areas.

Following a request from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), Taiyuan Aero Photography Co. Ltd immediately agreed to dispatch their Leica ADS40 digital airborne sensors to Chongqing near Chengdu in the Sichuan province. Since May 13th, fifteen flights were undertaken in the earthquake area, taking full advantage of the efficiency of the Leica ADS40 sensor system. Supported by Leica Geosystems staff, terabytes of continuous high quality image data were acquired and processed on a daily basis and sent overnight to local authorities and the President’s Office for analysis and updates.

On May 16th, after processing a flight undertaken earlier that day, Leica Geosystems’ support staff sent the corrected image data to the China Central Government Earthquake Salvation Centre for inspection. Whilst analyzing the image strip, the leadership’s attention was drawn to a sign stating “SOS700” on a rooftop in the village of Cao Ping near Yingxiu town. Although nobody in the Salvation Centre immediately understood the message, a rescue team was quickly dispatched to the village. Upon arrival in Cao Ping, the rescuers encountered seven hundred villagers without food and water, many of them wounded.

The discovery of the villagers’ colourful call for help was only made possible by the unique performance features of the Leica ADS40. The state-of-the-art line sensor technology of Leica ADS40 permits fast large area data collection at equal resolution across all bands without the loss of image quality and information in the multispectral bands. In combination with a fast and simple workflow, the Leica ADS40 delivers real production efficiency when time is of the essence.

Says Sam Chen, Vice President of Leica Geosystems, China: “This is truly a case in which the superior Leica ADS40 sensor technology helped to save lives. At Leica Geosystems we are honoured that in a combined effort with our customers and local authorities, we could assist our people and our country in this time of need. Using our technology we will continue to help rebuild the lives of our people in Sichuan.”