Killing people

I can’t go out right now, I have to kill some people.

Typhoon Frank is out there flooding towns and villages, lashing at the farms, whipping up waves at sea. A ferry sank off Romblon province, and hundreds are missing. As a reporter, it is part of my job to find out how many people are dead, missing, and homeless.

How many are dead? my boss asks me.

Eighty-two, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Center (NDCC). But some wire reports said 155, according to the Red Cross. I call up Sen. Richard Gordon, and he tells me there was a mistake: the correct figures are 118.

But now the wire reports say 200 are dead, so I have to look for the missing 82.

It reminds me of the Leyte landslide: the Philippine Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Bacarro, said about 2,000 were dead. Local government officials were quoting a lower figure, but he wouldn’t budge. Days later, in Guinsaugon, I looked at the final figure: less than a thousand had died.

I do not understand this need to report the figures of the dead and the missing in the first few hours of an emergency, knowing that the figures are often wrong and based on sketchy reports. 

People need to know the dangers involved: tsunami, flooding, tornadoes. But what good would it do them to believe that 200 died only to find out later that only 100 were killed?

I hate being wrong. But at times like these, I cannot do anything but grit my teeth, and kill more people.




2 Responses

  1. […] her latest post, Dana focuses on the penchant of both government and media in (mis-)reporting raw information on the number of casualties in […]

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