What they are saying about Japan’s mangled landscape
Excerpts from the bestwriting by journalists whohave visited the scene ofFriday’s tsunami
Journalists from across the world have descended on northern Japan to witness the scenes of devastation wrought by last Friday's earthquake and the tsunami that followed in its wake. The scenes are particularly poignant given the memories of the destruction caused by the A bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. These excerpts were collected by The First Post from the most vivid descriptions appearing in the English-language press:
Andrew Gilligan in the Daily Telegraph:
"Like the buildings, Japanese habits of good behaviour, too, are strong and do not break. Hiroko Yamashita, an elderly woman trapped under a bookcase with a shattered ankle, apologised to her rescuers for putting them to such trouble.
"Everyone is trying to behave as if life were normal and working very hard not to let their fears show. It is the kind of way the British were once supposed to behave, and it makes at least the immediate crisis a whole lot easier."
Mark Magnier and Barbara Demick in the Los Angeles Times:
"At the Sendai airport... a small plane rested with its nose wedged against a railing amid heaps of late-model Subarus and Toyotas that still glinted through the mud and twigs.
"Behind an airport warehouse, workers pointed to a body in a ditch. As an ambulance crew with a stretcher removed what appeared to be the remains of a middle-aged man, one of his arms poked out from under a fuzzy pink blanket as though he had been holding a cellphone."
Jonathan Watts in the Guardian:
"A railway line has been ripped from the ground and twisted vertically like a garden fence. Cars and motorbikes lie broken and so roughly re-parked by the tsunami that some balance precariously on their bonnets. Emergency and media helicopters buzz overhead and the bereaved sob by the side of the road. The air is rich with the rotting smell of disaster and death."
Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News for the Daily Mail:
"In my 30 years as a war correspondent I have covered more than 20 conflicts and several major earthquakes, but I have never seen anything on this scale. There is no crying, no hysteria, no anger. It is in the psyche of the Japanese people to do what they have to do in silence and with dignity.
As we look on, rescuers gently retrieve another body, cradled in a filthy blanket – all they had to hand. The love, respect and ceremony with which these people wrap their dead – people they knew – is perhaps more touching than any tears."
Andrew Higgins in the Washington Post:
"Cranes on a seafront loading dock, one snapped in two, signposted what used to be a throbbing manufacturing center. A Chinook military helicopter clattered overhead toward the battered but still standing steel factory, now spewing smoke from a fire lit by the quake."
David McNeill in the Independent:
"Somewhere in the distance, a siren wails, warning of yet another aftershock and tsunami. The few people still walking around in the dusk slowly head back toward the safety of high ground, away from the sea. What else can the sea do to them, they seem to be saying."
Chester Dawson in the Wall Street Journal:
"Low-flying government rescue helicopters, including Japanese Self Defence Force Blackhawks, hovered low over houses with roof tiles ripped asunder, looking for survivors. Further up the coast toward Sendai, entire roads and bridges were washed away. A few cars could be seen carefully navigating twisted and sand-strewn roads in an apparent attempt to flee, or survey the damage to their communities. No more than a handful of pedestrians could be seen for hundreds of miles up the coast." ·
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