CRASHES AND CONTEXT | Daily News

CRASHES AND CONTEXT

The Asiana airplane disaster in San Francisco (SFO) casts a new light on concepts such as disaster preparedness and disaster aftermath. The flight that crashed around a week ago in SFO was a rather routine one, and of course there were the heroics such as the riveting tale of the diminutive Korean airhostess who saved so many lives carrying people on her back to safety, totally disregarding her own, or the fact that she had sustained some serious injuries as well.

However, the crash happened in San Francisco and in a part of the world in which everything is supposed to happen as if by clockwork -- without a glitch as they say, and without much visible human effort.

But, the fact becoming clearer now is that the airport tragedy has probably more to do with the airport than the airline, the airline crew or other unavoidable circumstances, and this is where the story transforms into something rather chilling, as if it was something out of a genre of horror fiction.

Apparently, the airport had vital automatic landing equipment off on the day the flight landed. But more significantly, the runaway had been recently shortened, even though there was a water-body close by, and such an exercise should have been very carefully carried out with pilots handed out unqualified alerts.

Nobody is an aviation expert here in this newspaper, but going by the information released so far about the crash, it appears that airport deficiencies at least in a major part contributed to the crash, even though a crash inquiry report to determine the exact reason for the disaster will take months.

A lot of people fly, and this is why the Asiana crash in far away San Francisco is relevant to all, Korean, Sri Lankan, Chinese and all global citizens. Take what happened to the two Chinese girls who died in the crash - the lovely young females who made a heart sign with their hands in a poignant photo that was flashed on television the moment news was released they were the two fatally wounded victims.

These two girls were being sent for summer camp in the USA. They were presumably at the back of the aircraft, but anyway they were soon on the ground, and it is now established that at least one of them was run over -- that's right -- run over by the rescue operations and fire fighting team at San Francisco airport.

The fire chief nonchalantly making his explanation of that event said that 'one of our vehicles contacted one of the deceased and we can confirm that.'

Contacted, eh? The word seems to sum up the jaded attitude of the businesslike American airport staff for whom the deaths seem to be routine -- but shouldn't there be an inquiry on how the girls in this way came to be 'contacted' and someone held responsible?

In sum the airport incident shows the kind of coverage this kind of tragedy - tragic comedy if it isn't - is given in the global media in different places. Had the same airport inefficiencies - tantamount to outright negligence, probably even criminal negligence - occurred say in this part of the world, the world media would have been hounding the airport staff, the Ministers, and finally the 'Rajapaksas' vicariously as they always seek to do.

The sad Asiana story is a good reminder that the technical competency among other things of the world's only superpower and the other big powers riding her coattails is highly overrated. The US once promised the there will be an excess of global energy since the world went nuclear, that power will in the near future be in over supply and will therefore come cheap. So much for that -- the deadliest wars are still being waged by the US, and a lot of people think so called 'energy security' is the reason behind these never ending tragedies.

At least when you fly in an airplane the next time, maybe you can feel safer if you are landing in this part of the world ...? 


 

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