Melbourne CBD Tragedy

On Friday 20th Jan 2017 at about 1:30 pm, a car went on a rampage through the CBD of Melbourne, driving on pavement running over pedestrians at a very fast speed. The car later turned into Bourke Street Mall; a pedestrian mall closed to private vehicles. The driver was deliberately targeting pedestrians, said the police. The driver was shot in the arm and apprehended after police units in pursuit rammed his car. The total death toll right now is five, but Victoria Police said it could rise further. Thirty over people received treatment at the hospital for various injuries.

When the news broke, my first thought was, “It could have been me, or anyone I knew in Melbourne.” The rampage happened on the streets that I frequent, where I photographed people going about their everyday lives. I have once told a friend, if my time is up, I hope it will be on the street with my camera. So probably last Friday, my time wasn’t up yet. I also think those innocent victims don’t deserve to die either, but because of a selfish individual, lives lost, families devastated and the community mourned. 

It has never occurred to my mind an incident like this will happen in the most livable city in the world. Even though it wasn’t related to terrorism, lives are too vulnerable on the streets. It’s not going to stop me from my photography activity, and I just have to be extra careful and more observant of my surrounding. Although I know, it will never be the same again because it affected me mentally.

While reading the updates from the news website, I received SMS messages from friends concerned about my safety, thanks to those who thought of me in times like these. As I realised the news had spread oversea, I decided to send a message to my mum and family to tell them I’m safe. Since I have deactivated my Facebook, I posted a message on my Instagram to tell friends I’m okay. I also send out a few messages to friends who work in the city to make sure everyone is not around the area when the rampage happen. 

The next day, I decided to pay a visit to the makeshift shrine on Bourke Street. A street busker nearby was playing grieving music on a piano nearby; the mood was heartbreaking. The usual busy street corner outside GPO was silent, except for the sound of trams passing by the street. People just stood there; some prayed, some wept, everyone was looking at the floral shrine, probably thinking deep inside them, it could have been anyone. 

The positive side of this tragedy is to see the community getting together to help the injured immediately after the rampage, staying with them while waiting for the emergency services to render help. As of now, a total of $500K raised through the donation from the public will be used to help Bourke Street victims, with another $200K coming from the government. On Monday night, thousands of people gather in Melbourne’s Federation Square to mourn the victims. It is great to see the people of Victorian showing solidarity and support for one another in a time where people are hurting and grieving. Everyone responded with the love and sense of community that makes Melbourne such a beautiful city. 

Rest in peace angels, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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