That is the number that has been rolling around in my mind since I saw it at around 1am (WIB) this morning. The number of lives lost due to the tsunami in Palu, Sulawesi.
Having not long checked the news, it is now 844.
I am struggling to comprehend the loss of life. I have the vivid video footage that I saw on Friday evening, hidden (or maybe even suppressed) in the back of my mind.
I cannot imagine how the loved ones of those 844 are feeling. I can only feign to imagine how those who survived, are struggling to make sense of what has happened.
I am praying for them.
I am praying for the authorities charged with co-ordinating a response.
I am praying for those emergency and rescue teams, medical staff, aid agencies and others who are trying to bring relief.
I am praying that the earth and the sea will now remain still.
I am also thinking about what my Indonesian colleague shared with me this morning.
He said that seeing what happened in Palu on Friday caused them trauma. He called it terrifying. Because the memories of the 2004 tsunami (which majorly affected Banda Aceh) are still strong in their minds. He shared that he actually went to Aceh some time after it happened. It was a difficult experience. Especially because of the devastation that he saw. Still apparent, even after clean-up and relief efforts.
Hearing him, and seeing the look in his eyes, made me feel that the memory of that tragedy has become forever etched into the minds and hearts of Indonesians. Forever a part of their story.
What happened in Palu, Sulawesi, may become an interwoven story. The scale of loss (if looking at the numbers) may not be as great. However the impact reverberating in the hearts of the people, may well be.
* n.b: I am based on a different island. Some 2+ hours away by plane.