An earthquake in central Italy this morning has left 92 people dead (although this figure is rising by the hour) and 1,500 injured. The quake is reported to have hit the Abruzzo area of central Italy at 3:32 AM this morning along a known faultline which has encountered various tremors in the past.
Initially the earthquake was measured at 6.3 on the Richter scale although there are serious concerns that aftershocks will cause further damage to a region which has been devastated. There are reports that up to 15,000 buildings may have been destroyed beyond all recognition, 50,000 people left homeless and damage to some of Italy’s historic buildings and ancient artefacts. There are scenes of utter devastation across the country with tremors felt up to 60 miles away in Rome itself.
Panic and pandemonium in central Italy
There are reports of utter panic and pandemonium across areas of central Italy with vital power supplies and resources cut off from those who need them most. Areas such as L’Aquila seem to have suffered significant damage with many smaller villages and towns experiencing loss of life and significant injury numbers. Initially there had been hopes that the number of casualties would remain fairly low but as the day wore on it has soon became apparent this was a substantial natural disaster.
The thread on the expat forum entitled “Moving to Ofena” is filling up with stories of significant damage to property across the region, loss of life, injury as well as the ongoing rescue programme which has been instigated by the Italian government. While there are some problems with communications in the area it seems as though those just outside of the centre of the quake do have access to telephones and other communication mediums to reach the outside world.
One issue which appears to be prevalent on the thread is the lack of proper insurance by many domestic and overseas investors. With suggestions that because homes have been around for “hundreds of years” there was no need for insurance, many people will be counting the cost for some time to come.
The Italian government has been quick to mount a significant rescue mission for those left trapped, injured or in some way isolated because of the earthquake. Reports of significant damage to many second floor buildings and major structural damage are coming in all the time which is hampering the rescue services in their mission to find those trapped under the rubble.
Like so many countries around the world, Italy is suffering from a significant downturn in its economy which has impacted upon the financial strength of the Italian government. While the EU often attracts severe criticism from outsiders, there are reports of assistance being offered by each and every EU member to ensure all those affected by the tragedy can be located and treated as soon as possible.
While France is renowned as the top tourist attraction in Europe, Italy is not too far behind with a vast array of ancient buildings, ancient civilisations and cultures which vary between different areas of the country. There are reports of significant damage to the vast array of ancient buildings and churches throughout the epicentre of the earthquake, and the surrounding area for up to 60 miles. While churches have literally been destroyed in the immediate aftermath, there are reports of damage to ancient artefacts in areas as far away as Rome, which is literally on the boundary of the earthquake-zone.
Buildings which were literally centuries old are reported to have fallen to the ground with significant loss of life reported across the area. Even though many areas of Italy have, and continue to, experience regular earthquakes and earth tremors this one seems to have been a lot stronger than the average.
More tremors on the way
While the Italian government is literally working flat out to try and reach those affected by the earthquake the task has been made more difficult by the forecast of strong aftershocks in the hours and days ahead. As significant damage has already been done to so many properties, even a relatively weak after-shock could bring about more injury and loss of life with rescue workers literally fighting against the clock.
The vast array of charitable organisations around the world are now working flat out to ensure aid and financial assistance reaches those in most need across central Italy. Charities such as the Red Cross are leading the way with significant donations pouring in from around the world after news of the disaster started to spread. With the Italian government taking the lead, there would appear to be significant backup on the way with a vast array of hotels just outside of the earthquake zone said to have been seconded by the government to house the homeless.
While the ongoing worldwide economic downturn continues, today’s disaster really brings everything into focus. For the next few days headlines regarding the health of the global economy will be replaced by coverage of the Italian earthquake, rescue missions, heartbreaking stories and miracle recoveries. Those who can afford to give their time, their money or assistance in any way can rest assured it would be welcomed with open arms as the worldwide population comes together to try and overcome this terrible tragedy.
The earthquake experienced today in central Italy has already brought together EU governments, EU compatriots and governments from all around the world. Rescue missions are now underway to ensure those trapped are reached as soon as possible with rescue workers literally fighting against the clock.
While vast areas of Italy have been flattened, ancient cultures destroyed it is the significant injury and loss of life which is causing most concern to the Italian authorities. The situation has been made more critical by the threat of aftershocks which, bearing in mind the fragile nature of many buildings, could themselves cause significant damage in the short to medium term. Our hopes and prayers are with those trapped by the earthquake and the rescue workers fighting against the clock to find them.