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Switch to Forum Live View Earthquake in Northern Italy - Extensive Human, Cultural, and Economic Damage
2 years ago  ::  May 21, 2012 - 9:36PM #1
Merope
Posts: 10,257

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit Italy yesterday at around 4am local time in the Emilia Romagna region between the historic cities of Bologna, Modena, and Ferrara — the latter a Unesco World Heritage site.  Stories here and here.


Sunday’s earthquake was felt as far away as Venice, the German-speaking South Tyrol region of far northern Italy, and the Friuli region on the border with Slovenia.  The quake was fairly shallow (something like 6 miles or so deep), so the damage was considerable for that magnitude.


At least seven people are confirmed dead, 50 people are injured, and something like 5,000 people are homeless.  Even though the damage to many homes was relatively minor, the continuing series of aftershocks has resulted in cautions against sleeping under their own roofs.  So people will be sleeping outdoors in tents for the second night in a row - and possibly for many nights to come.  In towns and villages across the region, cars were hit by falling masonry and the streets were filled with rubble.


As engineers and technicians assessed the earthquake’s impact, the extent of the damage to the region’s cultural patrimony began to emerge.  In the town of Finale Emilia, a centuries-old clock tower was sheared in two, with one half collapsed into rubble and the other standing precariously.  A 14th century castle in the town of San Felice Sul Panaro was badly damaged, its battlements and towers crumbled into dust; 3 churches in the town were also affected, with centuries-old paintings damaged.  In the village of San Carlo near Ferrara, the roof of a 16th century chapel - which had taken 8 years to restore - collapsed, leaving statues of angels exposed to the sky; the church, which locals said contained the remains of a pope, may be beyond repair.


The ministry of cultural heritage in Rome said damage to historic buildings and the artistic treasures they contained was “significant”.  It is likely to be the biggest blow to Italy’s cultural heritage since the 1997 earthquake that badly damaged the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Umbria.


An unexpected victim was the area’s famous parmeggiano cheese.  The Italian Farmers’ Association said that as many as 400,000 cheeses had been badly damaged, at an estimated cost of €200 million.


Italian prime minister Mario Monti presided over a cabinet meeting this morning and has, I think, declared a state of emergency in the region.  As he addresses the complex problem of earthquake relief funds, experts will be closely monitoring the government’s decisions, bearing in mind that 3 years after the L’Aquila quake in 2009, the medieval center of the town is still largely uninhabited and in ruins.

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2 years ago  ::  May 21, 2012 - 9:39PM #2
Merope
Posts: 10,257

Please feel free to post here if you know of any members who live in the affected region or if you have family or friends in the affected area.  If you are a member in the affected area, try and give us a shout out to let us know how you are.  We send our love and condolences Kiss

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2 years ago  ::  May 22, 2012 - 3:06PM #3
Merope
Posts: 10,257

The Italian prime minister visited part of the quake area today, including a ceramics factory where two workers died after it collapsed.


Upon his return to Rome, the PM and his cabinet declared a state of emergency in the area and made $64 million (USD) in emergency funds available for use by the national Civil Protection agency providing quake assistance.  The national government also approved some temporary tax relief to owners of property damaged in the quake. 


Additionally, the PM promised swift help for small-scale businesses in the region, which is one of Italy's more productive.  The Italian farm lobby group had pressed the government for urgent tax relief measures, saying nearly $190 million (USD) in property and other taxes were due by the end of June.  The group noted that the quake-hit area produces foods that are renowned - and, of course, financially lucrative - abroad, including Parma prosciutto, Lambrusco wine, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and Modena's balsamic vinegar.  Pig and dairy farms and cheese-aging warehouses were among those reporting heavy damage.


The Cabinet also authorized a delay in payment of a new property tax for those whose homes or businesses were left unusable.  This is significant assistance, because the property tax is a key  part of the PM's strategy to heal Italian finances and keep the country from succumbing to the euro-zone debt crisis.


A government statement said quake aid would not necessitate resorting to new excise taxes to cover the expenses.


Factories, homes, town clock towers, monuments, church steeples, and roofs crumbled or partially collapsed in the 6.0 magnitude quake or during aftershocks.  Nearly 6,000 people have been sleeping in tents or cars or have been temporarily sheltered in structures such as school gyms after their homes were either destroyed or left perilously unsteady by the quake.


Italy is still tallying up the damage to its artistic heritage, including churches, paintings, and sculptures.  France has offered a hand in restoring any damaged artwork.  The offer came in a meeting on the sidelines of the Cannes film festival  between Italian Culture Minister Lorenzo Ornaghi and his newly appointed French counterpart, Aurelie Filippetti.


Story here.

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2 years ago  ::  May 22, 2012 - 5:13PM #4
CharikIeia
Posts: 8,301

May 21, 2012 -- 9:39PM, Merope wrote:


Please feel free to post here if you know of any members who live in the affected region or if you have family or friends in the affected area. 



I have three colleague-friends living in Bologna & to the South of it. They & their families are well, the quake didn't hurt much where they live. Luckily. It sounds like a miracle that the Bologna towers seem not to be affected.


Another colleague from Catania knows a lot of people in the Sassuolo district ceramics industry, which she studied as part of her PhD. I would guess that the companies she studied suffered quite a bit, but I didn't speak to her yet since the quake...

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