L’Aquila, four years after the earthquake

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(Photo credits: liquida.it)

The earthquake falls silent, but the tragedy lasts. Four years ago an earthquake of Richter magnitude 5.8 at a depth of 8 km struck the city of L’Aquila (Italy) and its surroundings in the region of Abruzzo at 3.32 a.m. on the 6th of April 2009. A normal spring day turned into a nightmare for the citizens that were brusquely woken up and whose status changed in few seconds radically from inhabitants to “displaced”. In numbers; 150 victims, over 1.500 injured and 70.000 people had to abandon what remained of their homes. Were the promises for aid reconstruction carried fulfilled?

On the day of this catastrophe that already seems so far back in history, the government proclaimed the national state of emergency and allocated 30 million euros as a first intervention. The then-Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi promised further aid, including some hundreds of millions of euros from the “catastrophes fund” of the European Union. The PM dealt with foreign Heads of States such as Obama, Merkel and Putin since the first day and each offered solidarity and help. However, Berlusconi believed the Italian government could take full responsibility and commitment to the reconstruction process and accepted the US contribution only for the restoration of the rich cultural heritage of the region.

At the time the State was close to its people, Berlusconi stated on the same day: “ If necessary, I will be in Abruzzo every day”. However, tragedies and emergencies, such as the one of the embarrassing amount of trash on the streets of Naples, are good for all politicians to show their support and function as “cat-walks” in pre-election times. A hand-shake, a smile, a hug, generous promises and prompt action certainly create a favorable atmosphere for politicians and moments of joy for the afflicted.

Four years later the citizens of L’Aquila look at a ghost city. The villages and smaller towns partly destroyed by the earthquake feel the same and are still waiting for the great activities of reconstruction and restoration that were promised in 2009.

Berlsuconi’s politics of “people first” could be better interpreted as “electors first”. It’s not about the politician though, rather the history and attitude of the country. In 1968 an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale destroyed Bellice Valley (Italy), which includes many villages. There were around 400 victims, 1000 injured and again 70000 people were evacuated. Till this day, in 2013, the signs of the catastrophe are still very visible.

Prevention, safety, development, reconstruction and restoration are matters that are put aside in times of economic crisis. However, a question rises, how long will this last? Apparently Italy has been facing an ever-lasting crisis that will change when priorities will change and maybe then we will have true promises instead of distorted hopes.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the nonexistent differences between L’Aquila four years ago and L’Aquila now, click on the following link: http://www.youreporternews.it/2013/terremoto-laquila-video-raffronto-4-anni-fa-e-oggi/

Laura Zuffi.

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