The Fire at Chardarah
Returns of an image search for “Chardarah,” show very few photographs representing the aftermath of a NATO bombing which killed about 100 civilians on September 11, 2009. Only one photograph, as far as I know, shows one of the the burning fuel-tankers where villagers from Chardarah were retrieving fuel when it exploded.
This was a one-day story in the United States, and the first page of Google web returns for “Chardarah” mostly links to my diaries on several political websites, so it may be fair to say that I paid more attention to the fire at Chardarah than anyone else on the internet, at least in English.
My father was in and out of a VA hospital almost all the time at the end of his life, and the nurses pushed me out in the hall whenever they performed “procedures” which weren’t appropriate for a child to see. So I met other veterans of other wars there, too, and one of the most impressive to me was a very old ex-cabbie who had joined up for WWII at the already advanced age of about 40.
He had served as a 7th Army pool driver all the way from Sicily to Alsace, and somehow survived almost all imaginable injuries… shrapnel, bullet-wounds, broken bones, and burns… and one day I asked him one of those questions that only children ask.
“What hurt the most?”
“Compared to the burns,” he said, “everything else was just a tickle.”
Just a tickle! They gave him so much morphine for the burns that he was unconscious almost all the time for a couple of weeks, but still, he said, “I could feel it in my dreams.”
Anyone within the first radius around a large petroleum explosion like the fire at Chardarah is simply blown to bits, and literally nothing remains of them. A little farther out you may find something like charcoal, then fragments recognizable as flesh. Eventually you pass beyond the radius where everyone must have died almost instantly, and move into a rainbow from blue to red heat, where people survived for an hour, or a week, or until today, mutilated and tormented.
I can feel it in my dreams.