Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the face of Fear

I'm typing this almost 24 hours after my city, Zamboanga, was hit with waves of explosions and subsequent panic. I was on the bus off to duty and a few meters outside of the gate, when we felt the first explosion. I thought it was a tire and I even looked back. But a few seconds later all of us realized that what we had infront us, a block away, was a giant cloud of billowing black smoke. Then the chaos erupted - people running to and from the direction of the smoke, not a few minutes later ambulances and firetrucks arrived. We decided to walk back to school. No sooner did we get back that the we felt the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh explosion. My classmates who were in school that time told us they were worried sick because they couldn't reach us. Tears weren't an uncommon sight in the campus because it's been years since something like this ever happened near the school.

Here are my tweets from the start of the explosion to being on the road braving gruesome traffic for a few hours:

15:30: Was it a bomb?! Motherfucker! We were almst there!

15:40: We're literally in the middle of chaos with firetrucks and people running everywhere

15:40: Was it a hospital? Pls dont let it be ciudad

15:45: Minuter.minutes separated us from the blast

15:53 Ok so now they say it's a fireworks display gone wrong

16:06: Explosion number 2 and 3! What the hell?!

17:02: The calm is eerie..

18:01: Now i'm stuck in traffic.thank god for classmates who offer their rides.haha

18:03: And we just had to stop infront of tat's barbeque.the torture

18:07: The hunger is officially sinking in

Deep isn't it? haha. The updated news article goes like this:

An explosion that ripped through a warehouse of firecrackers and chemicals and triggered a fire in several buildings at the Canelar district of Zamboanga City Friday afternoon has been put out, a police official said.
Police Superintendent Jose Bayani Gucela, spokesman of Western Mindanao Police Office, said the three-hour fire was put out at 6:15 p.m., saying it is now "contained," there are no casualties, and authorities are conducting "clearing" operations.
Gucela, who is also the chief of the city’s bomb squad unit, said "We cannot determine yet what [started] the explosion of firecrackers but [according to] witnesses, there was some kind of blast ... inside the tightly closed warehouse."
Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said the explosion took place at the warehouse of Pacific Hardware on Nuñez Extension past 3 p.m.
Authorities learned that unsold firecrackers were stocked in the warehouse, which also contained paint and chemicals, he said.

So, yeah, it's too early to say it wasn't a bomb, but there's the emphasis on the damage the fireworks explosion did. I don't really care whether or not it was caused by a bomb - we could literally run a knife through the fear and panic and that was real. The terror was real and I really don't think that it's right to downplay anything because we weren't scared for nothing.

I hope I will never ever see something like this ever again. 

1 comment:

Dee said...

I remember the fear you're talking about. It's so palpable it taints the air. I sort of felt it, panic enveloping me all the way in Singapore as my family members' cellphones rang and rang... they took forever to pick up and all sorts of images were already flashing through my head! Call me praning.

Glad you're safe.