Reuters blog archive
from Global News Journal:
A month after an earthquake killed nearly 300 people in Italy, the initial goodwill towards authorities for their swift handling of the disaster appears to be giving way to anger as survivors face an uncertain wait for promised funds and the prospect of a long summer in tents.
Italy's government is promising to start providing the thousands made homeless in the central Italian region of Abruzzo with new, furnished houses by September -- in what would be record speed anywhere. But continued aftershocks, rain and chilly temperatures have made life increasingly difficult for survivors in tents, which left-leaning newspapers have seized upon to issue long accounts of the "nightmare" of life in the 170 tent camps.
"I feel like I've already spent an entire lifetime inside here but only 30 days have passed," one tent-dweller, Claudio, told La Repubblica newspaper, which said the arrival of reconstruction funds in installments meant some people might have to wait nearly two years for a house.
A government decree promising 8 billion euros ($10.7 billion) to rebuild the areas devastated by the earthquake has also fallen under a cloud of controversy. Mayors in quake-hit towns complain it undermines their role in rebuilding efforts and the opposition say it is inadequate.
from Our Take on Your Take:
Davide Elias is a regular contributor to Your View and in the following blog recounts his experience covering the devastating earthquake in L'Aquila.
Early on April 6, the town of L'Aquila, central Italy, was struck by a strong earthquake. My home town, Brescia, is about 600km (375 miles) from L'Aquila. I wanted to travel to the quake zone to take some pictures. I headed to the area the next evening, taking with me two cameras and two lenses (a 10-20 mm and a 70-200mm). I left my 400mm lens at home.
from Photographers' Blog:
"ALWAYS get to the scene as soon as possible", is a mantra for the Tokyo picture team. It is advice which features prominently in the pocket-sized guide to emergency coverage procedures produced by our boss Michael Caronna - a guide which has also become indispensible in everyday coverage too.
Japan is one of the world's most seismically active areas and the Tokyo Pictures team's emergency earthquake coverage plan is well-developed and paid off recently when we covered a powerful earthquake in Northern Japan.
from Photographers' Blog:
In misty light I arrived at Chongqing Airport with my TV colleague Royston. We drove straight toward Dujiangyan, with rain spitting gloomily and the air damply hazing my breath. The city seemed as though the Big Bang had just happened, everything had stopped. The crying and sirens all around made me dizzy and I cannot really remember how I arrived at the ruins of what had once been a school, with its 900 pupils buried in the rubble. A rescue team was desperately looking for anybody still alive, while I stood on the mountain of dust and the dead, shooting pictures. The sound of the shutter seemed to me to be like death itself scratching away.
2. On the road
Go to Wenchuan.
Go to Wenchuan.
Go to the epicenter of the earthquake .
But how on earth? All roads were damaged and all gas stations controlled by troops. A 500 ml coke bottle filled with petrol was priced at 20 yuan (2.88USD) on the black market. On May 14th, I fuelled a rented motorcycle with several of these and began my long journey to Wenchuan, all off track. 10 kilometers later, I was stopped by police, so Ibegan to walk. Half way there I was offered a lift by Wang, an emergency worker, driving a bulldozer. In return I had to promise to check on his good friend Tan, the headmaster of a primary school inside Wenchuan town.
from Photographers' Blog:
It happened and it just happened, quietly but tangibly ... it only lasted 5 seconds...
May 12, 2008, 2:28 pm on the button, I was stooping to pick up a gift before rushing off to visit a client with two colleagues. The sudden dizzy feeling made me mentally rebuke myself for skipping breakfast and lunch; in those 5 seconds, I swore to myself never to do it again if I had to attend a formal meeting. But of course, my expressions remained calm.
"It's an earthquake", a sharp yet clear voice from the corner of the office broke this temporary silence which instinctively ignited my relief of being faint. "Hey buddy, maybe you are not so bad", I said to myself.
So, that is how it started ... on a normal working day, it just happened.
No worries, we had already had contingency plans...
Photographers immediately rushed to the airport, we skipped the client visit and began to tackle the breaking story. From that moment, for the first time ever, the Beijing Pix Desk began running 24/7 with three editors: Grace Liang, Reinhard Krause and myself.
The first pictures of white collars wandering downstairs after escaping from a shaking Beijing office building hit the wire 10 minutes after the quake struck while we continued moving pix from around China showing general damage like burst water pipes and cracked walls.
While the mobile phones of all our local friends' and stringers' remained unreachable, the story escalated. "A middle school building collapsed in Dujiangyan, near Chengdu, burying 900; another toppled in Chongqing..." The snaps just kept coming - who knew at that time that it was just the tip of the iceberg of a much worse tragedy.
The local stringers had already headed to these two spots before I got their first SMS which had been delayed for almost 4 hours.
"Stay safe & fast ftp," I replied in hopes that a short message would move more quickly.
Shortly after 9, the first image of real damage landed on the desk - then the second, then the third, and then the fourth ... By midnight, we had already moved 40 pictures from the worst-hit areas of Mianyang and Dujiangyan, with half of them exclusive stuff. And so it continued ...
By 7 am, 61 pictures earthquake-hit Sichuan province had been sent and by 2:28 the next day, 24 hours after the shock, 100 Reuters pictures had moved to the World... And then our staff photographers also began filing from different spots.
So, that was the first day after the earthquake, then the second, then the third - it was a sleepless fortnight until the story began to quieten down a bit...
I can barely remember how many packages we moved from this terrible news story and all of them telling heart-breaking stories, "relatives mourn near the body of their dead children", "a 61-year-old survivor is rescued after being buried for 164 hours", "a girl has to have her left leg amputated to save her life"...... There were too frequent heart warming moments as people all over the nation donated money and blood to the sufferers, 66-year-old premier Wen Jibao crying while visiting the area, exhausted young soldiers resting around their camp fire...
from Photographers' Blog:
May 12, 2:28 pm, almost all my Reuters Beijing colleagues saw the office TV sets shaking. Those TV sets had often shown the news but it was the first time they themselves had been the news. Within a few seconds, we realized it was an earthquake. An 8.0 magnitude earthquake had hit Sichuan province. Sichuan! My home. About ten minutes later, I was driving my car to Beijing airport. At that moment, I did not even know that there was a place on this earth called Wenchuan. Where was I going? What time could I leave? Fortunately, I was the first Reuters journalist to arrive at the airport and unfortunately I was the last to leave as I chose to fly to Chengdu and its airport was closed. I had almost no idea how serious the situation there was but wisely as it turned out took two instant DC/AC power inverters which meant I could work normally in the firs few days when the whole area was completely out of power.
2. In the field
On afternoon of May 13, after 6 hours of driving from Chongqing, the first earthquake-hit area I reached was Hanwang Town of Mianzhu. I was one of the first to arrive there. It later transpired that because the epicenter had been Wenchuan everyone assumed it would be worst hit when in fact towns in the surrounding area suffered more disastrously. It was like the end of the world with gloomy skies and soft drizzle. Terrified survivors told me Hanwang Dongqi Middle school had been horribly damaged so I headed there. It was unnaturally silent, the bodies of at least 20 students covered with plastic bags lay in a row on the ground. A mother gently removed the coverings trying to find her own child. Policemen surrounded the scene and I dared not approach but with a long lens I could see rain and tears merged on her face. Sometime later a couple found the body of their child and were just overcome with grief. I shot a single frame and went and hugged them but then an aftershock struck which made the damaged buildings 'peng peng', like the King of Terrors clamouring against which humans were just so small and weak. The rain became heavier, the mourning became louder and the sky became darker. There was a choking smell of death. I could not believe that just that morning I had been in Beijing, a city with a population of 15 million.