As Cyclone Idai slowly revealed the victims of its deadly march, search-and-rescue sniffer dogs have started scouring remote patches and gutted villages, going door-to-door in the storm-crushed Ngangu area in Chipinge so far leading to the recovery of 16 bodies.
The dogs are racing to reach the injured, the dead and those in need of help, hoping to chip away at a long list of people reportedly missing after one of the most powerful storms in Zimbabwean history.
The death count is hovering around 300 but is likely to rise.
Search-and-rescue personnel are working in affected areas, now with help from sniffer dogs from South Africa.
The dogs, trained to sniff out human life, are looking for the tiniest signs of life, cutting through brush, debris, trudging through snake-infested grass.
The sniffer dogs are trudging through a pile of ruins, and they are trying to smell something: a scent that disaster veterans fear. One that suggests a pile of rubble has become a grave.
The sniffer dog retrievers trained to sniff out human life, are barking each time they sniff out human remains.
The team of rescuers and dogs are undertaking their latest grim mission.
Search and Recovery Team Leader Justin Colbert, who is leading a team of six experts and two sniffer dogs, said the progress made so far is encouraging despite the fact that huge stones and massive debris is slowing their pace.
“16 suspected bodies were identified today and with the right support we are receiving, we hope to find more,” Colbert told State TV.
Chimanimani East legislator Zanu PF Joshua Sacco said: “We are now appealing to government to make available recovery machines to rescue the identified bodies.”