Friday, September 02, 2005

Battle hardened BBC reporters are stunned

BBC NEWS | Americas | Reporters' Log: Katrina's aftermath

These are the words of several veteran BBC journalists who've covered battle scenes and disasters the world over:
...The historic French quarter is reduced to a disaster zone and is beginning to look like a war zone. Some people have lost everything and are now beginning to lose their minds.

... If Bush set foot here he'd see something which no longer resembles the country he was elected to govern.

... There's a very aggressive police presence. They don't stop and talk to the refugees at all and they don't communicate with them. They just speed by in their pick up trucks and their cars pointing shotguns out of the window as they go. It's quite extraordinary behaviour.

.. I went to the superdome and there are about 15,000-20,000 people. The pace of evacuation there is unbeliveably slow....

... Elsewhere at the Convention Centre, there isn't a bus in sight. The only thing you see out of 2,000-3,000 people is police cars going through pointing shotguns. These are unbelievable conditions. Words begin to fail me.

... It is total mayhem. I have been to many disaster zones in Asia and a few in Africa and I must say considering the resources available here and all the rhetoric we've heard from Washington the situation here is much worse than comparable situations for these sort of crises in the Third world. It is quite frankly an indictment.

... I think people here would tear Bush apart if he came here, verbally if not physically.

But Bush has to show his face, be visible and show leadership. I am beginning to feel this could be a very serious political moment for him.

... There are now 1400 national guard troops arriving in New Orleans each day over the next few days. This is just in one city. Washington authorities say people will notice a show of force in the area. There will be a change. Hundreds of people will be moved out of refugees and evacuated out.

But that doesn't answer the question of why it has taken so long. And a lot of American commentators are saying - well these are scenes from the developing world rather than the world's only superpower....

... If it weren't for the water this could be Baghdad, with troops wearing body armour, trying to regain control from armed gangs.

Bodies are crudely wrapped where people died. These are the poorest, who couldn't leave the hurricane, and now have nowhere to go. In a hospital the most needy were lined up for evacuation. They waited, but the promised helicopters didn't come. The world's richest country is not able to help its sickest people.
Sometimes shame is the only way to reach a delinquent. America should be deeply ashamed.

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