COMMENTS: Time to Treat the Dead with Dignity

The weather cleared in the earthquake zone in China's Sichuan Province as 100,000 soldiers were deployed to help with the relief effort. "Helicopters buzzed overhead dropping urgently needed supplies in remote areas where access remains difficult," narrated NBC' Ian Williams. ABC's Neal Karlinsky showed us footage of soldiers rushed to repair cracks in one of the 400-or-so dams that were damaged by the quake, "just another worry hanging over people here."

John Ray (in the middle of the Williams videostream) of ITN, NBC's British newsgathering partner, hiked into Beichuan over a road that had been "mangled and chewed up. Huge boulders tossed from the mountain stopped everything in their tracks." He found a town, population once 20,000, "that has become a tomb…pretty much utterly destroyed. It is, you might say now, just a ghost town." In Juyan, ABC's Stephanie Sy (no link) showed us "structures that did not even stand a chance. They are more than a hundred years old and made of clay bricks." The modern buildings of Dujiangyan fared little better. Sy found "at least a dozen massive apartment blocks completely decimated."

CBS' Celia Hatton noted Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's inspection of the destruction "in a high profile attempt to show that the government is in touch with the people's suffering" and NBC's Williams remarked that China's TV news was offering "unprecedented 24/7 coverage of the disaster. It is openness, addressing the full horror of the quake, that surprised many people at home and abroad." Mused CBS' Hatton: "China is rarely seen as a place with too few people but as survivors' calls for help grow louder an army of rescuers is stretched to the brink."

ABC's Sy offered a brief portrait of a new widow, devastated at the discovery of her husband's body. "They place his body carelessly on the street next to another corpse lying on a slab of cardboard. It is crude work but with many more victims to recover that is little time to treat the dead with dignity." The death toll is now estimated at 15,000 with a further 26,000 unaccounted for.


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