All bets are off, I won't be finishing my one week challenge. It just doesn't seem important anymore. What happened, you might ask? A bomb, that's what happened. A real life bomb in my country, too close to where I live and work. And an even worse massacre to top that off. It's just totally unreal, Norway is a peaceful country. We're famous for our peace treaties, not terrorist attacks!
Although I work as far away as 7 km (4.3 miles), I could actually hear the explosion when it happened. At the time, I didn't think much about it, I just figured it was lightening. Because you don't really expect t a bomb to go off close to where you're at, do you? I didn't, anyways. So I didn't realize what had happened until I heard it on the radio a while later.
I just couldn't believe what I was hearing, and rushed to check the online newspapers. The pictures that met me there, were unreal. It looked like a warzone, like something that happens in other, more controversial (for lack of a better word) country. Not here, where I live. I wasn't physically close to where it happened, but psychologically it was just way too close.
It didn't help that, in order to get home, I'd have to take a bus through the center of Oslo. The situation was toally chaotic, the police kept securing larger and larger areas around the bombing, telling people to stay away and don't use their cell phones. When I found out that Oslo S (Oslo train station) was closed due to 'mysterious items', I decided not to go home. My bus would drive through that area, and I was not willing to take any chances.
Yet, I was shocked and scared and really wanted to get home and feel a little safer. I found a bus that drove a different route far away from the city center, and jumped on that. It would take a lot longer to get home, but it was well worth it to feel safer and get home. When I sat on the bus, I got a message saying that there had been shots on an island nearby. At that point, it seemed relatively 'innocent' (if you can ever called a shooting incidence innocent) and unrelated to the bombing.
When I got home and turned on the TV, though, the story was much more dramatic. AUF, the youth organization of a major political party in Norway, arranged a summer camp at Utøya. There were 500-1000 youths gathered there, and a man dressed as a police officer started shooting people. The scenes described just got worse and worse. Facebook and Twitter flooded with warnings like "don't call anyone at Utøya, someones is shooting and people are hiding". Some of the kids tried to swim off the island. There were interviews with families who had talked to their hysterical, screaming kids when the lines went dead and they hadn't been able to reach them since. These stories just etched themselves into me, I can't even begin to imagine this. I keep thinking about these families and the nightmare they must be going through.
I sat glued to the TV most of yesterday. When I went to bed, there were 10 reported dead from the shooting incident. Survivors talked about 20-30 dead, so I feared that the number would rise. But nothing could have prepared me for the news I woke up to - at least 84 dead. EIGHT-FOUR! And they were all youth, some as young as 13-14 years. It's just unbeliveable! And none of the diseased are identified yet, there are SO many families in the dark, hoping and praying that their loved ones are safe. But for every mintue they don't hear anything, the hope grows dimmer.
And today, when we were finally feeling a little bit safer because the shooter (who is also suspected of the bombing) was arrested, the news came that there might have been two shooters. Which means that there might be a very, very dangerous person on the lose. And that we might not have seen the last of this.
Today there were also more stories from the survivors of the shooting. They talked about how the shooter pretended to be there to help them, but instead started shooting. They described him as cold and calm, having all the time in the world as he leisurely shot people. Some saw their friends being killed right in front of them. Others had to play dead among their already dead friends to try to survive. It is just crazy, horrible, unimaginable - a real nightmare that unfortunately is no dream!
In between all this horror, there are some bright spots. Facebook is flooded by support messages both from Norwegians and foreigners. A lot of people have changed their profile pictures to show their support. The blood banks have long lines of volunteers giving blood and in fact they now have so much blood that they are sending blood donors away. There are stories of great heroes - one young man who swam from the island taking with him his injured friend. He almost didn't make it, yet he never let go of his friend, saving both their lives.
I am sorry about this long rambling. I don't really feel like I have the right to write about this. I wasn't there, and as far as I know, I don't know anyone involved. But still, this has shaken me and touched something deep inside. I'm home alone and don't have anyone to talk to, so I just needed to try to put words to some of the horror, disbelief, sadness, fear, sympathy and shock that I feel. Thank you for listening.
If you wanted to read the story of someone who was actually there, you can read Prableen Kaur's blog. (It is in Norwegian, but you can translate it at http://translate.google.com/) It is deeply touching. I just cannot imagine how anyone could survive such horrors, let alone someone so young. I have no words, it is unbelievable. And, please, send your prayers to everyone hurt by this attack, and their families and friends. They are going to need it.