Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

from Russell Boyce:

“Allah-u-Akbar! God is Great!”

Photo

Some pictures still shock me. Some make me laugh; many provide an insight or window into a new idea but only a few haunt me with my mind's eye returning to them again and again.

On Wednesday 28th July an Airblue plane crashed  just outside Islamabad in the beauty spot of the Margalla Hills killing all 152 on board. The cause of the crash, as yet unconfirmed, is thought to have been the driving monsoon rain. I edited the pictures shot by Reuters photographers who reached the scene. Images ranging from smoke drifting through the hills, men scrambling in the charred rocky, woodlands, picking through twisted metal and rocks looking for signs of life; tied cloth bags, dripping with the blood  that contained the remains of the passengers, to a severed arm and hand, the fingers still perfectly formed, just lying on the ground. There were no survivors.

PAKISTAN-CRASH/

Policemen and soldiers raise their hands while shouting "God is great," to lift their spirits as the team worked through heavy rain to search for bodies and a flight data recorder at the site of the Airblue plane crash in Islamabad's Margalla Hills July 29, 2010. Heavy monsoon rains in Islamabad on Thursday hampered recovery efforts at the site of a Pakistani plane crash that killed all 152 people on board a day earlier, a senior police officer said. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The next day, as relatives identified and claimed the broken bodies of their loved ones, the search continued for the black box and for more human remains. Pakistan Chief Photographer Adrees Latif returned to the miserable scene. Police, ill dressed for the appalling weather, soaked to the skin and cold, were carrying out the thankless task of the fingertip search in the charred and soaked scene. Suddenly a shout "Allah-u-Akbar! Allah-u-Akbar!" God is Great, the officer in charge both recognising fate and trying to raise the spirits of his men. The moment captured by Adrees, their belief in God transcending the misery and seemingly hopelessness of their task, the image and their unfaltering faith, left forever in my mind.

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