Monday, September 10, 2007

Apache Flares and Casevacs

The wind is still hot today but it has swung in from another direction and the dust has been pushed away overnight. The sky is blue and clear though everything is still covered in dust. From the roof I watched through the nodding fronds of a date palm as an Apache helicopter pirouetted through the sky in a seeming lazy series of swinging manoeuvres, flares drawing attention to themselves as they drift to the ground in a glory moment of intense white light. It is not too far up the river but these helicopters are surprisingly quiet if they are not right on top of you, so the whole tableau is played out in silence.
Unlike last night when I had a few drinks and a bite to eat at a BBQ in a compound not too far from a hospital. Generations on from MASH but with the same intent in mind, red cross bearing helicopters flew in to the hospital landing pad in pairs. A number of times. Roaring and whining, thrashing and beating the air with a serious thrubbing which bounced off the concrete walls and echoed off neighbouring houses. And later through the night we could hear them steadily bearing in - we assumed with casualties. It is a sobering reminder that for all that is partly normal here there is so much which is not.

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