Walls come tumbling down
"How dreadful!", we think. But we don't really take it in.
Well, after my acupuncture this afternoon, I spoke to Hazel about it. Her mother and her sisters all live less than an hour's drive from the earthquake zone. Naturally, they've been phoning her about their experiences. Hazel passed some of these experiences on to me, and I really feel that I must pass them on to you in turn.
As I know I've mentioned previously, Hazel's strong accent makes her English very difficult to decipher. But I'll try to reproduce her stories as accurately as I can.
Hazel's mother works at a university. The university has six thousand students. What was the canteen for all those students is now one vast field-hospital for the victims of the earthquake. Every day, more children are brought in. Some have lost a leg. Some have lost an arm. Many have lost both parents. Hazel's mother tells her that she cries all day.
"Mummy, you must not cry like this. You must save it for in your own time. You have to stay calm and professional if you are to do your job and help the children."
"Daughter, you have not seen what I am seeing. It would be impossible not to cry."
One of Hazel's sisters tells her that you walk through streets you used to recognise in which buldings have collapsed on top of one another. Hands and faces protrude from the gaps in the concrete. The hands and faces belong to people who are still alive, but trapped under tons of debris. You can do nothing to help them.
One handsome young man of 29 was trapped in such circumstances. He smiled and joked with the people who were trying to rescue him. "I'm fine!", he said. "I'll just wait here for you to rescue me". "Save your energy", they said. "You don't need to keep on talking to us". But he carried on. He stayed cheerful. He was expecting the birth of his child any day, so he was very excited and happy about that.
It took them six hours to pull him free.
He died half an hour later.