The allied air raids on Baghdad are having a devastating effect on life in the capital, collapsing high-rises and keeping many Iraqis in underground shelters, according to Western reporters ordered out.
"It was very depressing to see the scale and the magnitude and the amount of explosives falling on the city," Brent Sadler of Britain's Independent Television News said Monday from Amman, Jordan."It was a great shock to me, and I have seen the Americans attacking Libya and many bombardments in Beirut. But this was something completely different. . . . It was awesome and it was frightening."
Associated Press photographer Dominique Mollard, who arrived in Jordan on Sunday after 30 days in Baghdad, said the government armed many Iraqis with AK-47 assault rifles.
"When the raids came," he said, "even the AK-47s opened fire on the skies."
The British Broadcasting Corp.'s Eammon Matthews said Baghdad's main telecommunications building was now a terrifying sight.
All that remained of the 15- to 20-story building was its metal frame, he said from Amman.
"All the floors have collapsed down to the first floor, like a pack of cards."
Sadler said a cruise missile sliced off a tower on top of the main communications building "like a surgical knife."
"The attacks are having devastating effect," Sadler said.
He said there was no water or electricity in Baghdad, but much of the damage is not obvious because guards are posted at devastated areas and so many Iraqis are confined to bomb shelters.
"Most Iraqis right now are underground. They are in air raid shelters, they can't really see what's happening above them," he said.
"So the real shock of what's happening to their city they can't really see yet. But those who are living in shelters that I've been in are certainly showing no sign of bending or defeat. They are still supporting Saddam Hussein," Sadler said.
In a report Monday morning, Sadler said he saw no more than 50 to 70 vehicles on the five-hour drive from Baghdad to Amman. He also saw four Soviet-built MiG jet fighters parked along the main highway, which they had apparently used as an emergency landing strip.
In a separate account, Mollard said as he drove to the Jordanian border, he saw a burning factory near Ramadi, about 75 miles outside Baghdad. "Apparently, the aircraft had scored a direct hit," Mollard said.
Sadler said that in the bunker, he found no hostility from the other hotel guests and staff.
"People were very good to each other, sharing their water, sharing their fruit, what little there was . . . they were forgiving when one tried to find the odd few inches of space to lie down on. The only animosity I witnessed was after this missile was shot down. We were spat at by one Iraqi who emerged from the rubble and another Iraqi pointed a gun at us. But he didn't fire it. That was the only occasion of anger directed at us."