Over the Top

This whole thing is…intolerable. Just intolerable.

A bus carrying elderly evacuees out of the path of Hurricane Rita has caught fire on a gridlocked motorway, killing up to 24 people…Television pictures showed the entire bus alight, with explosions sending plumes of thick black smoke billowing into the sky. Officer Peritz said the blasts were apparently caused by oxygen containers for the elderly on board the vehicle…The passengers were being evacuated from a nursing home in Bellaire, south-west Houston, when the accident happened…Officer Peritz said the driver, who survived the fire, repeatedly went back onto the bus to try to rescue passengers.

I can’t read that without wanting to blub. Hell and damnation – what next. You’re old and ill and you can’t breathe well, you have to get on a bus to escape a hurricane, you have to sit on that bus in a colossal traffic jam for – what? Many hours, certainly. News reports last night were saying 15 hours. You have to sit in misery for hours and hours – and then the oxygen that some of you need in order to breathe – explodes and burns most of you to death. Like flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport.

And then there is Templeman 3, one of the New Orleans city jails.

As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff’s department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city’s jail, Human Rights Watch said today…These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level…According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmate’s last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench…As the water began rising on the first floor, prisoners became anxious and then desperate. Some of the inmates were able to force open their cell doors, helped by inmates held in the common area. All of them, however, remained trapped in the locked facility…Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison. A number of inmates told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to get everyone out from their cells…Many of the men held at jail had been arrested for offenses like criminal trespass, public drunkenness or disorderly conduct. Many had not even been brought before a judge and charged, much less been convicted.

More flies, more sport.

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