Monday, 14 March 2011

Japan earthquake Sendai tsunami

The scale of disaster in Japan is on such a scale that no-one can help but be moved. Or maybe not. No food, water or blankets in Sendai but the British Ambassador and retinue use precious resources to go there to gladly confirm "No British casualties". As if nationality matters in a horror like this? It was arrogant imperialist attitudes that contributed to the Second World War. And I'm speakng as someone who knows. My uncle and family friends knew Sendai well - as wartime forced labour - but they'd be the first to care about the people caught up in this disaster.

So think of the people of Kandahar in Afghanistan who raised £30,000 in three days "It's not much" said their local mayor, "we are poor, but we want to help". It's the thought that counts. No goverrnment or country can cope with a situation like this way beyond wildest nightmares..At the end of the day it's ordinary individuals who bear the brunt of things. One of the videos showed a pile of hundreds of cars. "A used car yard" said the voice over. Actually, the cars were in the dockyards carpark. That morning their owners left them and went to work. How many are still alive?

What really is amazing is those people. A man goes from room to room begging for news of his wife. He bows in gratitude even though no-one knows. An elderly woman gets pulled out of rubble,  her leg broken, and apologizes for being "work". Another man had a message from his elderly father.  "I'm fine" the old man texted. "It's snowing". But when you're 80 and out in the open, that's no fun. A hundred aftershocks a day, some massive. Is the old man still OK?

There's probably lots of suppressed hysteria, but outward panic only makes things worse in the short term. In some societies, there'd be people running around with guns, looting, stomping on others. In New Zealand, while the family of a woman killed in the rubble wept on primetime TV, someone went and burgled their home. And there are rougher places than NZ.

At last, stories are reaching the media from ordinary people. For me the  most important of all:
Survivors are weary but resolute, and Families bound by hope and despair.


Gwil W said...

It's the same where I am in Austria. "...believed to be no Austrian casualties", " danger of the radioactive cloud reaching Austria" - I think many journalists, as usual, fail to realise what's going on. In today's paper for example there's half a page about an Austrian who was sitting in a ski lift when the earthquake struck - the trivia you have to wade through is mind boggling. But it's always the same. Whenever something happens, Haiti, or wherever - it's the Austrian angle. It's just human nature I guess.
I see now a line of people nearly a mile long queuing quietly for a sausage, a baguette and an apple. And then bowing to the person who gives it to them. The contrast between this discipline and the panic one often sees in some other countries where wailing, moaning, falling down, crying out to the gods, is the norm couldn't be greater.

Doundou Tchil said...

Hello, good to have another Austrian - please post your news ! Journalists take the easy way of making stories relevant. 10,000 "natives" drowned, one national marginally affected. Now that there are lots of "natives" who speak English there's less excuse for not going out and finding out what's really happening.