Monday, April 6, 2009

'Terremoto": Earthquake in Abruzzo, Italy

Viewing both the amazing artifacts and architecture of Rome, and the results of the destruction of Pompei this past December, one realizes that the Italian geology remains dynamic and changing, just as so much of its civilization has survived for millennia. "Terremoto", earthquakes, remain a reality in this lovely country, dotted with palm trees and lemon groves, so central in Europe and so close to the continent of Africa.

The earthquake in L'Aquila, Abruzzo region, has had a profound impact on the affected towns.

US Geological Survey Details on the Quake:
>http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/Quakes/us2009fcaf.php
More local news on the event:

a>http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L6566682.htm

From Correire della Sera:

Numerous buildings destroyed and 40-50,000 people displaced. The earthquake, which registered 5.8 on Richter scale, occurred at 3.32 am and was felt all over central Italy

L’AQUILA – An earthquake that registered 5.8 on the Richter scale shook the Abruzzo region at 3.32 this morning. The epicentre was about 10 kilometres from L’Aquila and the tremor was felt distinctly all over central Italy from Romagna to Naples. Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has already proclaimed a state of emergency, mobilising the army and air force, and appointing Guido Bertolaso to manage operations. Mr Berlusconi has indicated that he will visit L’Aquila at once, as will the interior minister, Roberto Maroni. Mr Bertolaso, who is Italy’s civil defence supremo, is already in L’Aquila and said the “situation is dramatic, the worst tragedy since the start of the new millennium”.

THE POPE AND THE PRESIDENT – Benedict XVI and Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, have sent messages of solidarity to communities hit by the earthquake.

EARTHQUAKE DATA – The earthquake occurred 8.8 kilometres below ground level. Giulio Selvaggi, director of the earthquake centre at the national institute of geophysics and vulcanology (INGV), said that earthquakes like this are classed as “moderate, with an intensity 30 times lower than the one that devastated Irpinia in 1980”. Abruzzo has been the focus of a seismic swarm that became active on 16 January, causing hundreds of shocks, the most serious of which, with a magnitude of four, took place on 30 March.

CASUALTIES – The interim count of casualties is already dramatic and destined to rise: 100 deaths, hundreds of injured and thousands of people displaced. At least five children are among the victims. Hundreds of buildings collapsed completely or in part, and thousands more were damaged or left unsafe. There could be as many as 40-50,000 displaced persons. Rescue work is hampered by continuing aftershocks that could cause damaged buildings to collapse and by the total destruction of the prefecture, which should have coordinated the rescue effort. Only the four pillars at the prefecture’s entrance have been left standing. The buildings of the provincial and regional authorities also suffered severe damage.

NEARBY TOWNS – News of devastation is starting to come in from towns and villages around L’Aquila that were cut off until this morning. The situation is particularly desperate in towns like Onna, where 50% of homes have been destroyed, and Paganica. Rescue workers on the spot say the situation is “appalling” and reminiscent of the earthquake in Umbria. A number of buildings were damaged at Sulmona and Castel di Sangro but there are no reports of casualties. Meanwhile the courthouse at Avezzano has been declared unsafe.

RESCUE WORK – Early today, it was already clear that the situation in the regional capital was dramatic. In the middle of the morning, the sheet-covered corpses of victims extracted from the rubble still lay on the ground. Hundreds of people wandered the streets in a state of shock, many huddled in blankets and many more still wearing pyjamas. Those who abandoned their homes were directed to the football ground area, where a reception centre will be set up, but others, who have taken to the streets for fear of being trapped if aftershocks demolish their already damaged homes, are hampering rescuers’ efforts. Civil defence authorities have invited residents to keep the streets clear to allow rescue work to proceed. L’Aquila hospital, whose drinking water supply was cut off, began work under emergency conditions. Doctors were administering first aid in the open air outside the A&E department. Only one operating theatre was functioning, the others having been rendered unsafe. A field hospital is now on its way from the Marche region and the more seriously injured victims have been flown by helicopter to hospitals elsewhere in Abruzzo, in Rieti and in Rome. In the early hours of the day, there was chaos at L’Aquila hospital as ambulances and in private cars continued to ferry in casualties.

BUILDINGS DESTROYED AND DAMAGED – Early estimates by civil defence put the number of unsafe buildings at 10-15,000. Four complexes were razed to the ground: the student residence, one building in Via Sant’Andrea and two in Via XX Settembre. Various other buildings were damaged or partially demolished in other parts of L’Aquila and the Duca degli Abruzzi hotel was totally destroyed. Rescuers are attempting to reach a family of four trapped in a small house opposite the student residence. A woman of about 50 was recovered alive from the ruins of a three-storey building in Piazza della Repubblica and one youth was rescued alive from the student residence but another ten or so are thought to be still trapped. Rescuers are digging with their hands as mechanical diggers are unable to reach the site. One Greek student and about ten Israelis are missing, according to communiqués from the respective foreign ministries. Parts of the façade and apse of the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio in Piazza Duomo also collapsed.

DAMAGE ELSEWHERE – Falling cornices and other damage, but no casualties, were reported in the province of Pescara. A seriously damaged building was evacuated at Sora, in the province of Frosinone. Further damage was reported in the province of Rieti.

COMMUNICAITONS – The mobile phone and landline networks in the earthquake-hit areas are back in operation. Electricity supplies to 80% of the 15,000 premises that were cut off had been restored by 9 am. The main railway lines are all in operation and checks are under way on regional services. Checks are also being carried out on motorways, where some sections have been closed. Repairs are being carried out on the water supply network in the Teramo and Pescara areas.

AID – Offers of aid have flooded in from other regions of Italy, from other countries and from the European Commission. “At this time, we can say that the Italian machinery is perfectly able to deal with the emergency”, said civil defence executive, Agostino Miozzo. “If we encounter problems during operations, our friends will be ready to step in”.

APPEALS – The Abruzzo regional authority chair, Gianni Chiodi, launched an urgent appeal for blood donors. Italy’s chief of police, Antonio Manganelli, asked drivers “not to clog roads that from now own will be used by rescue convoys”.

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it



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