I have photographed horror. And I did again last night. While taking the pictures I was not shaken, but while standing alongside relatives of the victims waiting for the deceased to be carried out after another concrete block was lifted, I cried and cried again.

I stood alongside a 16 year old young man, abandoned by his mother a few years ago and raised by his godmother, who was inside the store – he stood waiting for her from the moment the tragedy happened until now. In the morning, his classmates and friends brought him tea and dry clothes.

I shared a smoke with a 70 year old man who was constantly trying to call his wife. She had gone to the shop from the building next door to buy bread. There was a signal, but no answer.

I saw a man who had gotten home from work at 5 AM and, upon finding out what had happened, realised that his wife of only a week is under the rubble.

I saw a 20 year old girl, both of her parents were under the debris.

I saw a police woman who had to deliver the horrible news to relatives almost fainting and vomiting.

I saw the police general Ints Ķuzis with tears in his eyes.

I saw crane operators looking for their teammate; he had helped sort through the ruins.

I saw casino employees refuse a young woman who had been waiting for information about her husband all night in the cold the chance to warm up inside. By morning, she too received the grim news.

I saw a young guy suddenly brighten up, jump the security fence and break through a group of police officers, because he thought he saw his mother being brought out alive. She was not.

I received a text from a friend I was supposed to photograph tomorrow, it won’t work out, there isn’t anyone to give the photos to anymore.

I saw a thousand people lining up to donate blood. And I saw cadets unable to sit still on the bus and asking desperately to be allowed to help those in need.
Edijs Pālēns, 22.11.2013