Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Merapi on TV
So here's a shot from the news. Image taken about three hours ago and right now being recycled by our friends on the assignment desk at TVOne. So no rivers of lava burning us away or anything, and no Pompei redux. Not yet.
UPDATE: Well, let me take back that Pompei crack. TVOne this afternoon broadcast footage of rescue workers digging out from an ash heap the very stiff body of Mt. Merapi's now-former spiritual gatekeeper, an elderly man named Mbah Marijan (http://tinyurl.com/37zjtwp) In his mid-80s when he was killed yesterday, Grandpa Marijan served as a kind of shaman volcanologist at Merapi for several decades. He's a well-known figure in Central Java, and I'm pretty sure All Things Considered just ran an interview with him earlier this month. My Internet's a slow mess, as usual, and I can't find the piece in the ATC archives but I'm sure it's there. Marijan didn't evacuate his home near the slopes of Merapi--thousands of people live and farm on or near the mountain--and he was found buried in ash inside the burned-out shell of his house.
TV watchers this morning could watch tape-delayed images of workers digging Marijan's gray, rigor-mortised body out of his house. The old man lay face down and slightly bent, his arms raised with hands beside his head. The rescue workers pawed at his corpse, brushing ash dust from his neck and from his shirtback. The cameraman jostled for a better vantage, giving us a high-angle shot, looking straight down on Marijan's mortal remains. The workers pried him out of the muck and then rolled him into a bright yellow body bag. His body remained completely stiff, stuck in death, as it tumbled sideways into the bag. They didn't show his face, but I think only because they didn't have it on tape. The workers hefted the body bag into the air and walked it out of the house, one bearer at each of four corners. The bag sagged with Marijan's weight.