Tragedies and disasters in the headlines are worrisome enough – but they really hit home when there’s even the smallest connection, like having stayed at the hotel, or flown that airline. When you know people there – even friends of friends – it feels personal.
It was so in Mumbai when the gunmen took over two luxury hotels and killed people at random. It’s so in Jakarta, Indonesia, where a few days ago, criminals set off two explosions targeted at whoever happened to be in the way. I got back from a few days without web-access to find a tragic message in my e-mail.
IMA Asia, the Asian business environment company with which I’m associated, has a partner company in Indonesia run by Jim Castle. CastleAsia was holding a breakfast meeting with clients in the Marriot Hotel at the time of the blast. Including the CastleAsia staff, 18 people were present.
Four people in the group were killed: Tim McKay from Holcim, Craig Senger from Austrade, Garth McEvoy from Thiess, and Nathan Verity of Verity HR.
Another four were somewhat sheltered by a pillar, and had minor injuries. This included Jim Castle. The others, including Jim Castle’s Number 2 at CastleAsia, Max Boon – who lost part of a leg – were injured to various degrees, and many of them were medically evacuated to Singapore. Though many of the injuries were serious, Richard Martin of IMA Asia reports that none are believed to be life-threatening.
Indonesia has never been the safest of places, but this kind of targeting of foreigners is calculated to spook foreign investment, tourism, and business. The police think the Bali bombers may be responsible.
I’m not going to call it senseless violence – most violence is senseless to the victims, and has some dark meaning to the perpetrators. This, according to some analysts, is about splinter groups withing a terrorist organization. These are casualties in some guy’s efforts to be more ruthless, more violent than his competitors.
And again, the dead include nationals of many countries that really don’t have a fight with the Islamists. Reuters reports that according to police, the casualties included citizens of Indonesia, Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Canada, Norway, Japan, India and the United States. At least one, Tim McKay, is from New Zealand.
How long before we’re so inured to these disasters that we start thinking of them like plane crashes? And will that make the terrorists want to up the ante, or will they try for other ways to make their various points?