I shared cabin with a Russian couple on a night train from Helsinki to Moscow earlier this week. They told me that a plane had crashed near Perm with 80 dead and some damage done to the Trans-Siberian railway. Since I was about to embark on the Trans-Siberian a few days later and pass the city of Perm, I was curious on how this would effect my journey.
But being on a train, the only source of information was my fellow passengers and the radio in Russian language. The friendly Russians translated the radio broadcast for me and told me what had happened.
I then went to the restaurant car of the train and had a beer with a Russian man who explained further that a member of the presidential staff was among the casualties. He also said that there already was ten different versions on what had caused the accident.
It struck me once again how vulnerable you are when you travel in a country where you cannot read the alphabet or speak the language. If a big event happens, the circulation of rumors are inevitable.
I think back on the chaos during the 9/11 attack in New York, where there was a lot of rumors before the facts slowly started to emerge. I also remember being in Boston during the riots in my home town Gothenburg, where all I got was small bits of information.
Update: Heard something about the crash sending rail flying for 50 meters up in the air. Could be trouble for us after all.
Update 2: The rail seems to be fixed now. Next stop: Ulaanbaatar. Da svidaniya!