Asia – A Week in Pictures 28 November 2010

November 29, 2010

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.

CAMBODIA STAMPEDE/

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.

CAMBODIA-STAMPEDE/

A relative of a stampede victim mourns at the Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. A stampede on a bridge in Cambodia’s capital killed at least 375 people when thousands panicked, pinning and trampling revellers on the last day of a festival marking the end of the rainy season. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

NEWZEALAND-MINE/

Family members of miners trapped underground in the Pike River coal mine react after learning of a second explosion in the mine at a briefing by mine authorities and police in Greymouth on New Zealand’s west coast November 24, 2010. All 29 miners trapped underground in a New Zealand mine for five days are believed to be dead following a second explosion in the Pike River Coal mine, police said on Wednesday.         REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

After the attack on Yeonpyeong the world held its breath waiting to see what the outcome would be as the nuclear armed peninsula strained with tension; China, the US and the UN  going into diplomatic hyperdrive while South Korea evacuated the residents from the island and poured in its military, their Marine commander stating that the deaths would be avenged 1,000 times over, Conservatives taking to the streets to demand an immediate attack on Pyeonyang City. Tension subsided, the financial markets calmed, street demonstrations were quelled by riot police and a mother publically mourned the death of her son. Kim Kyung-hoon produced this striking picture which appears both brutal and intrusive unless you have a little understanding about the culture of Korean mourning.

Three different global stories linked by pictures of personal grief.

KOREA-NORTH

Military officers escort the mother of South Korean dead marine Seo Jung-woo, who was killed by North Korea’s artillery shells attack on Yeonpyeong Island, after a funeral at a military hospital in Seongnam, south of Seoul November 27, 2010. Four people were killed when North Korea lobbed scores of artillery shells on a South Korean island near the disputed sea border on Tuesday.    REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

KOREA-NORTH/

Houses destroyed by North Korean artillery shelling are seen on Yeonpyeong island November 25, 2010. North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing two South Korean soldiers and two civilians and setting houses ablaze in the heaviest attack on its neighbour since the Korean War ended in 1953.   REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

KOREA-NORTH/

A woman hugs her mother (L) who arrived by a maritime police ship from Yeonpyeong island, at a police port in Incheon, west of Seoul, November 24, 2010. The United States-led U.N. Command in Seoul said on Wednesday it had called for talks with North Korea to seek ways to ease tensions on the peninsula after Pyongyang’s deadly artillery shelling on an island in the South.  REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

KOREA-NORTH/

A protester attends an anti-North Korea demonstration in central Seoul November 26, 2010. North Korea fired shells at the island of Yeonpyeong off the peninsula’s west coast on Tuesday, killing two civilians and two soldiers and destroying dozens of houses.  REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

KOREA-NORTH

A boy who was evacuated after the North Korea’s artillery shells attack on Yeonpyeong Island , takes a rest at a make-shift shelter in Incheon, west of Seoul November 26, 2010.    REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

KOREA-NORTH

Former South Korean UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) personnel fight with riot police while using fire extinguishers, during a protest in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, November 27, 2010. The former UDT personnel, trained in sabotage and infiltration into North Korea, protested against North Korea and against the government for ignoring their sacrifices on spy missions, demanding compensation for their tough training. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

KOREA-NORTH

Riot police are covered with fire extinguisher powder after their scuffle with former South Korean UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) personnel during a rally in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul November 27, 2010. The former UDT personnel, trained in sabotage and infiltration into North Korea, protested against North Korea and against the government for ignoring their sacrifices on spy missions, demanding compensation for their tough training. REUTERS/Truth Leem

KOREA-NORTH/

South Korean naval sailors (bottom L) stand on its floating base as the sun rises off Yeonpyeong Island November 28, 2010. Joint exercises between the U.S. and South Korean militaries have begun in the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean peninsula, an official from U.S. Forces Korea said on Sunday. North Korea fired shells at the island off the peninsula’s west coast on Tuesday, killing two civilians and two soldiers and destroying dozens of houses.  REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

CHINA-KOREA/NORTH

A female North Korean soldier stands guard on the banks of the Yalu River, near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, November 23, 2010. China expressed worry about reports that North Korea had shelled a South Korean island on Tuesday in the latest escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula that neighbours the world’s second-biggest economy.   REUTERS/Stringer

What I have come to realise is that within the space of 72 hours, the world’s attention had moved between three major Asia-based stories with shocking speed.  

This brings me back to my original point about the lone bugler connecting the thoughts of all those thousands of people thinking of their loved ones while listening to the mournful notes of the “Last Post”.  I hope that the pictures left by the photographers will give people the opportunity to reflect on what happened during this hectic week and that the images will be as clearly remembered as I remember the pictures from Hillsborough as if it were yesterday. When we look at the pictures we will be thinking of those who died and those left to grieve. They can see those pictures because the photographers had the strength to take them, when emotions were rawest and many would look away, and most importantly the sensitivity to make them not only memorable but honest and relevant.

NEWZEALAND-MINE/

A combination of undated pictures released by the New Zealand Police shows 27 of the 29 miners trapped inside the Pike River Coal mine. All 29 miners trapped underground for five days are believed to be dead following a second explosion in mine, police said on November 24, 2010. The miners are (top row L to R) Conrad John Adams, 43, Malcolm Campbell, 25, Glen Peter Cruse, 35, Allan John Dixon, 59, Zen Wodin Drew, 21, Christopher Peter Duggan, 31, Joseph Ray Dunbar, 17, John Leonard Hale, 45, Daniel Thomas Herk, 36, (second row L to R) David Mark Hoggart, 33, Richard Bennett Holling, 41, Andrew David Hurren, 32, Jacobus (Koos) Albertus Jonker, 47, William John Joynson, 49, Riki Steve Keane, 28, Terry David Kitchin, 41, Samuel Peter McKie, 26, Michael Nolan Hanmer Monk, 23, (bottom row L to R) Kane Barry Nieper, 33, Peter O’Neill, 55, Milton John Osborne, 54, Brendan John Palmer, 27, Benjamin David Rockhouse, 21, Peter James Rodger, 40, Blair David Sims, 28, Joshua Adam Ufer, 25 and Keith Thomas Valli, 62.  REUTERS/New Zealand Police/Handout

Comments

These images and not always easy to look at … and must have been even harder to shoot… hats off to the Reuters photographic team. Thanks.

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