Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eyewitness accounts

The crash landing at Heathrow airport today was a field day for journalists. BBC News 24 cleared its schedules for over 2 hours to talk about the incident; and the event was even sweeter for them because (a) nobody was killed, so there are no awkward arguments about morbid intrusion, (b) it emerged that British grit and stiff-upper-lip prevailed and resulted in the efficient evacuation of the plane.

What I thought was most interesting was the selection of eyewitness accounts that emerged. Some passengers phoned up the BBC, others were interviewed later, and a page of their descriptions is on the BBC website, here. There is considerable variation in the reports: some say the plane landed on the tarmac, others that it swerved 90 degrees, some that the pilot was clearly struggling, others that it all happened suddenly. Yet despite this variation, the storyline is clear. Everyone is agreed that a plane made a crash landing on Runway 27L at Heathrow and that nobody was seriously hurt. The different angles actually add to the story, especially those inside and outside the plane.

It is reminiscent of another set of eyewitness accounts about a surprising and unexpected event in history, isn't it?

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