Amy Waldman's "After the Wall of Water, Only Grim Discoveries" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/28/international/asia/28scene.html?hp&ex=1104296400&en=defccb49857f102b&ei=5094&partner=homepage) (I'm using the print headline, the online headline is different) is a very powerful front page story this morning:
The earth covered Muniamma's body even faster than the water had taken her life. The wiry gravedigger shoveled spadefuls of soft soil at blurring speed, then moved toward the next body. No time to waste, no sentiment to spare, no ceremony, no marker: just a mass grave for victims of the tsunami on Sunday, and mass grief.
In the huge hole in the earth, Muniamma's husband, Mani Natrajan, a 35-year-old fisherman, bent over the mound that now represented his wife and draped a bright red cloth over it. He had found her less than an hour before, in the morgue at the government hospital, where a morbid sweetness cloyed the air and khaki-clad police officers wore white masks over their mouths.
He had fallen to the blood-spotted floor, cried over her, tried to kiss her, spoken to her, in vain. Their reunion was one-sided.
The paper is doing some great work on the earthquake and the destruction that has followed. Waldman especially is doing noteworthy work (the kind of strong writing that should be remembered when it's time to honor the best).
Kara e-mails: "They're flooding the zone with this story. That was my first thought. Then I looked through another skimpy news section and realized that Waldman, [Michele] Kayal, [Matthew] Wald, [Seth] Mydans, [Lawrence K.] Altman, [Eric] Lipton, [David] Carr and the rest filing these stories may be the only ones not on vacation."
[The others filing strong work on this story in today's paper include Nick Cumming-Bruce, Michelle O'Donnell, John Schwartz and Andy Newman.]
John Schwartz's "Blogs Provide Raw Details From Scene of the Disaster" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/28/technology/28blogs.html) contains links for additional information:
There was the simple photo of a startlingly blue boat smashed against a beachside palm in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, at www.thiswayplease.com/extra.html. "Every house and fishing boat has been smashed, the entire length of the east coast," wrote Fred Robart, who posted the photo. "People who know and respect the sea well now talk of it in shock, dismay and fear."
At sumankumar.com, Nanda Kishore, a contributor, offered photos and commentary from Chennai, India: "Some drenched till their hips, some till their chest, some all over and some of them were so drenched that they had already stopped breathing. Men and women, old and young, all were running for lives. It was a horrible site to see. The relief workers could not attend to all the dead and all the alive. The dead were dropped and the half alive were carried to safety."
. . .
Bloggers at the scene are more deeply affected by events than the journalists who roam from one disaster to another, said Xeni Jardin, one of the four co-editors of the site BoingBoing.net, which pointed visitors to many of the disaster blogs.
[Also see worldchanging.com -- the fourth blog the article mentions.]
But back to Kara's point, which I understand and agree with. I'm glad this story is getting the attention it needs and deserves; however, it's also true that we've got another main section of the paper that's "skimpy."
On the front page, I'd also recommend a story by Celia W. Dugger, "Supermarket Giants Crush Central American Farmers" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/28/international/americas/28guatemala.html?oref=login). I'll note an op-ed by an author many have written the site about, Ron Suskind who has a column entitled "The Cabinet of Incuriosities" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/28/opinion/28suskind.html).