Wednesday, May 14, 2008



(For the headlines on the event in the Dutch news, click RTL)

I entered the faculty of architecture at 9.10am, got to the 5th level and there was water all over the floor. The lifts were not working so I walked up all five floors. I walked to the tap and got myself a cup of water.

After approximately 5 minutes, the alarm sounded. I was still carrying my cup of water while going with the flow of people leaving the building. We were all herded to the carpark- that was when the fire at the 6th floor became visible.

The fire looked small, so at that time people were more struck by wonder than worry. The email sent out by the faculty administration announced that the fire started from a "short circuit caused by a faulty water pipe" at the 6th floor.

The fire could not be controlled and continued to ravage the rest of the building. At approximately 5pm or so, part of the building collapsed. At 5.18pm, D.J. van den Berg, President of the Executive Board, released an email statement saying that "no conclusive statement can be given about the exact cause of the fire". Fortunately there were not casualties in the fire.

This is the closest I've been to a headlines tragedy. With the initial wave of sensationalism worn off, I now feel a sense of loss. Loss for people whose works have gone up in flames. Loss of a place that I had some emotional attachment to. Loss of an entire faculty. As I type this I can still see, from my window, smoke billowing from the destroyed building.

At home home now, I turn to my bible for some key to the event, and chance upon Deuteronomy 5:4 "The Lord talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire." This gives me a sense of awe of how powerful God is. Am also reminded of the verse from 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The temporal nature of the material world and its systems is quite often overlooked until it collapses. It has collapsed this time- literally.