Wednesday, August 15, 2007

At least 200 dead in yesterday's bombings in northern Iraq

"I felt my leg hurting, and I knew my head was bleeding," he said. "Then I couldn't feel anything. When I woke up, I was in the hospital."
During an interview with a Washington Post special correspondent, Farhan began to cry. "Where is my family?" he said. "I left my wife and my four children at home. Did they die?"

The above is from an article noted by Martha and Lloyd by Megan Greenwell and Dlovan Brwari, "Truck Bombs Kill 175 In Iraq's North" (Washington Post). Over 175 people died (AP has an update on the number of people) and saying that number and moving on isn't reporting. Someone break the news to Damien Cave of the New York Times. Violence kills and it changes lives and doing a piece, as Cave has, where you go running to Iraqi officials and US officials isn't reporting on what happened. It's not even that he's more focused on the 9 US service members announced dead yesterday (including the 5 who died in the helicopter crash). He's not. He's focused on "Military officials" and "Military officials" and "Military officials" and "leader of the largest Sunni bloc" and "Another Iraqi official" and "the Iraqi authorites." Quoting a captain (actually paraphrasing) about how "socres of families were obliterated in the blast" is not giving voice to anything but what officials say. It's not demonstrating the very real destruction of people's lives.

People are dead and he's more comfortable tossing around a number and rushing off to get statements from officials than he is in conveying the tragedy that took place. No witness is quoted, no one who lost a family member. In fairness to him, the paper should have flooded the zone with this story (but they only flood on Iraq now when it's DC based coverage). And even if people were his strong suit (they aren't), the paper's approach is usually 'voice of officials.' They drop that when mass tragedies occur (the tsunami being one example). But his article tells you nothing about the very real destruction. It's removed and it's distant.

If they'd flooeded the zone, there would be a place for his article. As it is, the article's just a huge disappointment that's using mass destruction and death as an excuse to check in with officials. It conveys nothing of what took place yesterday.

The Post also quotes Haji Sido, "I ran past people screaming on the ground. I didn't care, because I had to get to my family. When I got home, my wife said: 'Calm down and thank God. We are safe.' " You get nothing like that in Cave's article.

Kim Gamel (AP) reports the death toll has risen to 200 and this is from that article:

"We are still digging with our hands and shovels because we can't use cranes because many of the houses were built of clay," Qassim said. "We are expecting to reach the final death toll tomorrow or day after tomorrow as we are getting only pieces of bodies."
The bombings came as extremists staged other bold attacks on Tuesday: leveling a key bridge outside Baghdad and abducting five officials from an Oil Ministry compound in the capital in a raid using gunmen dressed as security officers. Nine U.S. soldiers also were reported killed, including five in a helicopter crash.
The carnage dealt a serious blow to U.S. efforts to pacify the country with just weeks to go before the top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to deliver a pivotal report to the U.S. Congress amid a fierce debate over whether to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

Gamel quotes Khadir Shamu declaring, "My friend and I were thrown high in the air. I still don't know what happened to him."

The Los Angeles Times offers a listing of "Worst blasts" from Reuters. Carol J. Williams (Los Angeles Times) reports:

"There is no justification for this," said Aydan Shikh, a 33-year-old Yazidi activist surveying the devastation after the bombings, which left apartment buildings and stores ablaze. "What crime have the Yazidis committed to deserve this?"
Subhee Abdullah, a shop owner who was about to close up when the attacks occurred, described a scene of panic and chaos. Yazidis, maimed and bleeding, crouched in hiding, fearful that more blasts were coming."I saw people drowning in their own blood," the 50-year-old said. "More people are sure to die."

The e-mail address for this site is