Photo by Anna Armstrong/Flickr (Creative Commons)
A tsunami warning sign on a Japanese beach, July 2004
Throughout the day, as I've followed news of the continuing devastation in northeastern Japan after its 8.9 magnitude quake, I've linked a couple of times to one website that keeps drawing me back for its succinct updates. The website of Roound, a mobile technology startup out of Singapore, has set up a page on which constant updates are posted from Tokyo as developments occur.
The updates, taken from news sources in Japan, are short and terse, giving it the feel of something between a Twitter feed (which it also is, @alertdisaster) and a scrolling ticker. And they are in English, which helps.
"Airport in Sendai is now completely submerged under water," one update reads. "It is a true devastating disaster."
The scope of the disaster, with its mounting death toll, the flooding, raging fires, a damaged nuclear reactor and mass evacuations, is truly dizzying. But there was a simple update on the Roound feed about half an hour ago that brought it down to human scale:
A child was swept away by waves as the mother tried to save him.
Just like that. I thought of that mother, and it sounded like the worst news yet.