Unfolding tragedy to Australia's north
Had our pictures of the destruction following the Christchurch earthquake been rendered in black and white, we could have been looking at something from the Blitz.
On a different scale entirely, the scenes from Japan have reminded us of Hiroshima. Cities, ports and coastal communities have looked more like the mouth of hell.
Japanese foreign language students were among the victims of the CTV Building in Christchurch, and we watched as a Japanese search and rescue team sifted through the colourless wreckage in bright orange uniforms.
On Friday night, those brave rescue workers prepared to return to Tokyo to perform the same gruesome mission in their homeland, albeit on a vastly bigger scale.
I am going to be off for the next few weeks - which is why I am not in Japan - and leave behind a news diary that seems entirely inconsequential given what is unfolding to Australia's north.
A big protest rally in Sydney in support of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. A pre-wedding royal tour by Prince William to Queensland, Victoria and New Zealand to visit the victims of the floods and earthquake. A state election in New South Wales, where the incumbent Labor government faces obliteration (even to use that word seems inappropriate at a time like this).
After the federal election in 2007, at the start of what many thought would be the Rudd era, Labor was in charge in every state and territory and enjoyed a healthy majority in the federal parliament.
The most senior Liberal office holder in the land was the mayor of Brisbane. Now Liberal-led coalitions are in charge in Western Australia and Victoria, and Labor leads minority governments in Tasmania and, of course, Canberra - another sign of the party's speedy decline.
By the end of the month, a Liberal-led coalition will be in charge in New South Wales, the country's most populous state. Not that there is any great enthusiasm for the incoming government. Indeed, perhaps Australia is living through an era of least worst options when it comes to federal and state politics.
Just to think, many of the headlines midway through last week focused on Prime Minister Julia Gillard choking up as she delivered her speech to the joint session of conference and talked with great wonder about America's first Moon mission; and her choice of Australian music on an iPod she presented to Barack Obama.
At the moment the quake struck, I was just about to head to a footy match in Sydney - that's rugby league for the uninitiated - pondering how the change in the sporting seasons had once again been ushered in with frontpage scandals involving players and agents.
But again, the ongoing trials and tribulations of the National Rugby League, the NRL, now seem so utterly inconsequential.
I covered the last Asian tsunami from the ghostly shores of southern India and Sri Lanka, and have a sense of what is facing the rescue teams, the reconstruction workers, my colleagues, and, most of all, the victims.
I am sure I speak for all the regular readers of this blog when I say our thoughts are with them all.