Monday, April 25, 2005

I'm fine, thank you

I got home from work an hour or so ago and this is just a quick entry to say thank you for asking, but I was not on the train that derailed. I was, however, working at a place quite close to the accident site and helicopters have been disrupting my classes all day.

I have been using the opportunity to teach my students some new language. They now all know how to say A train was derailed. It crashed into an apartment building. Fifty people were killed and 239 injured. (I think it might be more, now.) They also know how to say, How terrible! and I'm scared to ride the train home. One student knows how to say I had a lucky escape. That was my usual train, but this morning I took an earlier train. It was the first time for me, in my three years at university.

My low level students, who kept flocking to the windows to watch the news helicopters, got a numbers, colours, plurals, and pronouns lesson.

"How many helicopters can you see now?"

"One, two, three... shi... mumble mumble hachi... Ten helicopter!"

"Ten helicopterSSSSSS!"

"Yes. Ten helicopterSSSSSS."

"Eight janai?"

"There is helicopter there, behind that tree, and helicopter go behind building."

"Use 'one'. There is one there, behind that tree, and one went behind that building."

"Yes. There is one there, and doko itta kana...? Mienakunatta..."

"What colours are they?"

"There are four red helicopter, three blue helicopter - "

"Three blue ones."

"Three blue ones, and , and three, eeeeedo... dark colour. Mienai."

"And what do they look like?"

"They look like tombo."


"Yes. Dragonflies."

All day university staff have been running around trying to locate all the students who they know live out that way, to make sure they are safe. When I left work at around 4.30 they hadn't found everybody yet. I had two students missing from a class, but it is too early in the semester to know whether they were students who had decided not to take my class after all, or who were habitually absent, or what. I will find out more on Wednesday when I'm back at the same place again.

The line this accident happened on is not one I use very often, although it is the same train company, and one stop from a station where I change lines quite often. The helicopters are still buzzing around noisily, and The Man tells me he just saw on TV that they've located some more people from the first carriage, which was buried in the building, still alive.

This is very big news here. It's the worst train accident in forty years, they're saying. Millions take trains just like that one every day. It will shake confidence.

I'm feeling a bit shaken myself, but as The Man has just reminded me the safety record is an excellent one and It's still much, much safer than driving.


Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cheryl said...

Hope things are still going ok with the rescue.
Over here the news is implying that the train was, very unusually, running late and that passengers felt it was going too fast when it hit a corner. The poor driver is only 23 years old and new on the job - only been a driver 11 months, or something. I actually really hope it WASNT driver error. I would sooner a bit of track or safety procedures needed modifying than the idea of one youngster having to spend the rest of his life with all those deaths on his conscience because he tried to go faster.
Its all awful.

Badaunt said...

The last I heard the driver was 'critically injured.'

The Man said there was something mentioned about a safety braking mechanism that was old and/or not installed on that line. But he's not sure how it worked, and not sure whether it would have worked in this particular case.

The driver had already been reprimanded once for overshooting a platform, and again just before the accident had overshot another one, which was why he was late and trying to make up time. Perhaps he just wasn't cut out to be a driver...

Faerunner said...

:( The accident is sad news. I too hope that it wasn't driver error. I'm glad your student took that earlier train, though!

On a very random note, the word tombo reminded me of something I was doing yesterday - looking for the children's song Akatombo (Red Dragonflies). A friend of mine sang it in chorale and wanted to get a copy of it; have you any idea where we could find one?

Badaunt said...

Sorry, I don't know where to get Akatombo... but a search on the web will probably turn up something. Hold on...

How about this one?

Megan said...

Very sad. I'm happy you were not on that train, but I hope all the students are alright as well. Please let us know on Wednesday.

Lippy said...

You were the first person I thought of when news of the derailment hit the news back here. A terrible tragedy, but I'm very relieved to know you weren't in it.