While the emergence of camera phones has changed how disasters and incidents are shown to a wider world, the ringing of unanswered mobile phones is increasingly the dominant sound that follows devastating terrorist attacks, such as happened yesterday at a subway station in central Minsk, Belarus.

Eyewitnesses emerging from the smoke-filled station said the platform below was filled with the sound of unanswered cell phones in the clothing of the dead and injured.

While mobile phones have themselves sometimes been used to trigger terrorist bombs – as they make convenient timer mechanisms – it is often the sound from the phones that survived the blast that create a modern soundscape as they ring out for the people who will never answer them.

Like pets still waiting for their owner to wake from a never ending sleep, the phones continue to beg their owner to answer them, until a stranger picks up the phone and finally, fatally silences it.

Around the station, the noise of ambulance sirens mixed with the sound of mobile phone rings. Many people in the crowd answered calls assuring the caller they were all right. Others nervously dialed their phones, searching for loved ones they feared might be inside the station. From time to time, a tearful voice could be heard shouting into a phone, “Why aren’t you answering? Pick up!”

As rescuers pick through the debris of the explosion, slowly the sound of the outside world trying to demand the attention of the dead within the station is muffled as one by one, the phones are silenced and the sounds of the investigation finally start to take over the aftermath.

With quotes from Radio Free Europe

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2 Comments

  1. Annabel (Mrs Redboots)

    That made me cry…. I remember a similar story being reported after the Paddington rail crash, and it made me cry even then!

  2. Never thought about this, but it is quite sad. The phone that never answers.

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