UPDATE: Quake rocks Abruzzo

Italy bands together to aid the devastated region

Editorial Staff
April 9, 2009

The powerful earthquake that rippled through the central Italian region of Abruzzo on April 6 at 3:30am has claimed some 275 lives and left 28,000 homeless, many of whom face months of living in hotels and tent cities set up by Italy's Civil Protection Agency. Ten of thousands more people have been seriously injured. Thirty to forty people are still reported missing.


The first quake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, struck in the mountainous province of L'Aquila, severely damaging homes, buildings, churches and other priceless artistic jewels. Authorities say several billions of euro are need for the quake reconstruction effort. However, Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi recently told the press that it will take months to assess the damage done.


The Italian Culture ministry recently reported that approximately 70 percent of L'Aquila's historical, architectural and artistic jewels have been lost forever as a result of the quake. Aside from the human effort aimed at giving medial assistance and providing food and shelter to quake victims, Pope Benedict XVI recently made a worldwide appeal to art experts to volunteer their services and expertise to restore paintings and other artworks damaged in the quake.


On Friday, a State funeral will be held for the victims on the grounds of an army training school in L'Aquila. The mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L'Aquila. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, alongside the premier and many other politicians, will be present at the funeral mass, while Pope Benedict XVI says he will visit the stricken area after Easter.


Moreover, powerful aftershocks continue to mar the area, one in particular registered 5.6 on the Richter scale on April 7. The aftershocks have made it even more difficult for rescue workers to search for survivors as building continue to crumble. To make matter worse, police fear a resurgence of looting in the area. Several people have already been arrested for looting damaged homes and buildings.    


Donations from across the globe have been pouring in. According to the Associated Press, American singer Madonna donated some 500,000 dollars to the devastated region and special bank accounts across Italy have been set up to help the survivors.


The Italian senate's 315 members decided to deduct $1,323 from their salaries for the cause, and several Italian football teams have donated revenue from their matches, including Florence's AC Fiorentina and AC Siena. Nations from all four corners of the globe have expressed their willingness to contribute to the reconstruction fund. 


The solidarity offered by Tuscany and Florence has been substantial. Apart from volunteers from the Misericordia, who are in Abruzzo providing food and medical assistance in a tent city set up for some 200 quake victims from the badly hit villages of Paganica, Castelnuovo and Centicolella, the Tuscan region has been given the job of coordinating the technical teams, which will assess the damage and safety of buildings and homes in the earthquake zone. Some 230 firemen from Tuscany have been sent to Abruzzo to support the rescue effort.


By visiting the website of Tuscany's Protection Agency (http://servizi.protezionecivile.toscana.it) those interested can donate funds, food staples, and clothing. Tuscans can even offer their homes to quake victims. Locally, food and clothing donations can be dropped off at the Ristorante Fuoripiazza, located on Via Gioberti 46r in Florence. Hotels and city councils across the region have offered help and funds to the quake effort. However, officials ask that funds for the reconstruction effort be donated above anything else. Monetary donations can also be made at any Monte dei Paschi bank: IBAN IT03 Y010 3002 8060 0000 5000 036.

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