BLOG: Journalists account of Riga supermarket collapse

  • 2013-11-23
  • By Rayyan Sabet-Parry, RIGA

I had just ended football training when a text from my editor arrived.

'Shopping centre collapsed. 2 dead. Any details?'

It was 1030pm. I contemplated whether I should go to the scene. International media had all covered the story. We needed to tell our readers what's going on.

Social media is the perfect tool for these kind of things, when used wisely. After asking our readers If they had any information, we received instantaneous replies. One struck out in particular. 'I sent you a message.'

It was a Norwegian freelance photographer. He could be at the scene in 15 minutes to take photos. Minutes later we were in a taxi zooming to the scene of the collapse.

The scene was closed off so we needed an aerial view of the disaster to see what was going on. A kind woman later let us inside her home and told her story. She had been minutes away from entering the shopping centre before her plans changed. Her life saved.

Her balcony overlooked a terrible scene. Rescue workers frantically searched rubble for survivors. Scores of ambulances waited in bay. A makeshift hospital. I had never seen anything like it.

Others weren't so fortunate. A man walking his dog was too distressed to speak as he waited anxiously for news about a trapped relative.

A 20 year old man broke down in tears after hearing three friends were trapped in the rubble.

"I was just speaking with them yesterday and now their gone' he said.

And what about the journalists who rushed to the scene to cover the story. There's a sense of duty to cover the facts, then there's also the emotion. How can you fight back feelings of shock after seeing such a scene and hearing peoples stories.

It's 2am as I write this. The end of a 'working day', so to speak. A
life in a day of a journalist.