Smart phone users have become direct witnesses to nature’s fury in Uttarakhand. Ever since the floods began, video clips shot directly by stranded pilgrims are being shared through instant messaging services. Smart phone users having instant messaging services like Whatsapp, Wechat and Twitter are sharing video-clippings shot by pilgrims with their smart phones and shared instantly with friends. Footage of an Innova car slipping into a river gorge from a pucca black topped road that has been undercut by the roaring floodwaters has been dramatically shot by a phone from a much higher level.
More dramatic is a long shot of a landslide in which an entire hillslope slides on to a road below it recorded by a pilgrim on his smart phone. The whistling and hooting of people watching around the landslide from behind have also been recorded.
The most popular video clipping is that of a Siva statue submerged till the neck in fast flowing flood waters. Since there are no details of where the clippings are shot some old video clips seem to be surfacing again.
B.J. Sudhakar, a spare parts dealer and a long time ‘whatsapper’ said that some old clippings of an air-suspension bus slipping into a gorge while trying to cross over a freshly laid road was being circulated again. Another clipping of a lorry falling in to flood water from a black topped road was also old, he said.
The danger of being misled, notwithstanding, the Uttarakhand floods are being witnessed in an all new way thanks to smart phones and instant messaging services, said G.R. Rao. There are limits to what television channels can show, but there are no limits and restrictions to what will be shared this way, he said.