Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NPR's coverage of the earthquake devastation in China

Anyone else listening to this?

NPR happened to have reporters there on the ground in China to cover another story (the developing Olympics preparation) and were able to give first hand accounts of the devastation - children buried under a collapsed school, parents waiting 4 hours before help came and digging through the rubble with their bare hands. It's heartbreaking.

I've found myself glued to the radio listening every morning and evening during my commute, hoping they found more survivors. The official death toll estimate is almost 14,500. There was one miracle - a woman uncovered after 50 hours was found alive, and she's 8 months pregnant. A glimmer of hope in so much sadness and despair.

This evening they featured the story of one family, whose son was dropped off at his grandparent's apartment on the 3rd floor shortly before the entire building collapsed. The parents were hoping and praying that somehow all 3 family members had survived. When the bulldozers and cranes came, and rescue workers with equipment to cut through the re barb - the mother ran through jagged metal to a newly dug hole in the rubble, without care for her own safety shouting her son's name and "Mommy's here! Mommy's coming!" And she kept shouting for her son to come out. Almost a half a day passed when they finally found the dead body of a neighbor woman. The neighbors began cutting up a white sheet into 3 pieces. This is the custom there, to cover the faces of the dead. The mother went limp with grief. She blamed herself - "Why didn't I take you to work with me today like you wanted? If only I had taken you and not dropped you off." The NPR reporter giving the report of what was happening - had such emotion in her voice - that by the end of the story I was sobbing. I felt like I was right there watching this grief stricken mother and I felt her pain and sorrow. I so hoped they would find her little boy alive.

A rescue worker emerges out of the debris and says he has found the body of a little boy. The mother asked if the boy looked to be 2 years old, and the worker confirmed that yes he appeared to be around 2. The mother cannot accept the fact that he is dead. She asks the worker if he shouted his name to make sure he isn't just unconscious. The mother and father hold each other and cry. Just listening was almost too much to bear.

They found that the boy was being held by his grandfather, and the grandmother was behind them, holding onto the grandfather. The mother stayed with her son's body and kept repeating, "Mommy's here. Mommy's here." Even just remembering the story and picturing that scene in my mind brings tears to my eyes.

As soon as I stopped the car, I held my 3 year old daughter tight and told her how much I loved her.


Wasteland Fan said...

Rose: I was mesmerized by the same story. It was probably the most effective and affecting radio reporting I have ever heard. Just devastating.

And I thought an important part of the story was the hope, despair, and pain that the reporter's voice-over shared with the parents.

I, too, was headed to pick up my kids from school and daycare. When I dried my eyes, I walked in and gave each a big hug. My 7-year-old said, "What's that for?" It was nice to be able to say, "Just because I love you." I know how much Mrs. Fu would have given to be able to do the same with her son.

AustinAngela said...

Melissa Block & Robert Siegel just happened to be in China working on another story when the earthquake hit. Listening to their raw emotions was breathtaking and heart-wrenching.

I hugged my 6-year-old, too.