I was listening to a radio programme about the history of military music (please bear with me) and a woman recounted a story about the first time she heard the "Last Post" being played at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. The woman (sadly I don't remember her name), said that what really struck her was that after the moment of total silence was broken by the first notes of the Last Post she knew that every one of the thousands of people standing in Whitehall would be sharing the same thought - that of someone who they had loved and lost. Three stories this week put me in mind of this woman as I looked at images of people grieving for lost ones. The difference being that for each person lost the world was watching their story albeit only momentarily; the crushed people in Cambodia, the miners in New Zealand and the four people killed by the shelling by North Korea of the tiny island of Yeonpyeong.
People are crushed in a stampede on a bridge in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. The stampede killed at least 339 people late on Monday and wounded nearly as many after thousands panicked on the last day of a water festival, authorities and state media said. REUTERS/Stringer
At 3.30am on the 24th I received a call from the desk telling me that that hundreds of people had been killed in Cambodia during the water festival. The picture I saw horrific, young people twisted together, some dead and some alive, panic in their eyes as people stampeded to try to leave an island linked by a bridge. The picture of the people in the act of dying reminding me of the images from the Hillsborough soccer disaster in 1989 when fans were crushed to death in steel cages as more fans tried to crowd into the game, photographers pitch side only needing turn around to take these pictures, unable to help as the life was squeezed out of them.
The same day 375 people died in Cambodia on the bridge North Korea shelled the tiny South Korean island of Yeonpyeong killing four, the world's attention moved away from Cambodia.
Although the world's attention had been snatched away from Cambodia, I imagine it didn't make the grief any easier for the relatives who went to identify the bodies of their loved ones, no doubt oblivious of what was happening on the Korean Peninsula. Chor Sokunthea's picture of the distraught man hugging his dead relative is as sad a picture as I have ever seen. On the very same day in police New Zealand, the mine story now well away from the world's gaze, announced that there had been a second explosion in the Pike River coal mine dashing all hopes for the relatives of the 29 trapped miners that the same miracle would happen for them as it did with the miners in Chile and China, all of whom had been rescued. Tim's picture of the crying woman saying all that can be said about grief and the loss of hope.