LETTER FROM ROME: Apocalypto Now

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[Photo via THE BIG PICTURE]

Benini.jpgBY SIMONE SECCI FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT ROME — The noises that people used to hear in the streets of L’aquila, one of the main cities in central Italy, were those that you can hear in every other place in the world: People talking, traffic, kids playing. Now L’Aquila is a ghost town ruled by a terrible empty silence, a silence of death. The numbers that corresponds to the terrible earthquake, that hit L’Aquila last Monday are those of a catastrophe: 228 people founded dead, hundreds injured and more than 70.000 homeless, so far.

Unfortunately L’Aquila wasn’t the only place to look like this, in the region of Abruzzo many other little towns have been almost completely destroyed, and the people that survived the fury of the quake have been forced to leave their homes where some of them had lived for more than 50 years. After 2 more powerful aftershocks hit central italy again last night and this morning collapsing more buildings in L’Aquila and other towns in the region, putting the lives of hundreds of rescuers in serious danger, it’s hard to think it will ever stop.

In the rest of central Italy it’s still hard to believe what happened, the earthquake, the big 0406-web-for-quakemap-sub.gifdevastating one of April 6th, was felt in the entire area including Rome where in some neighborhoods people temporarily abandoned their houses and went down into the streets, after seeing their homes shake for almost a minute. It’s hard not to get scared thinking about what happened only 75 miles away. Meanwhile some NGOs (non-governmental organizations ) reacted promptly sending people and help to the area, and other people in the rest of the country are trying to give other forms of aid by donating blood or raising funds to buy campers, the reaction of the authorities is not reassuring, however.

There was a few useless polemics in the national newspapers, a back and forth between scientists that were supposedly in possession of data that would be able to avoid the terrible event — something that we know is impossible, even for the most sophisticated anti-seismic systems in Japan. Prime Minister Berlusconi conducted a press conference 2 days after the disaster, declaring that Italy is a proud and self-sufficient country able to face this event with its own resources, and declining the offers of financial aid from other countries. In his most recent declaration to the press, Berlusconi seems to have partially gone back on his words accepting Mr. Barack Obama’s help to restore and rebuild the monuments that have been damaged in the earthquakes. Minister of Internal Affairs, Roberto Maroni, who was determined to visit the devastated area, still has not been able to get there. Overall, a weak response from Italy’s democratic leaders to a tragedy that really hits the heart of a country already weakened from the dramatic increase of unemployment, and lack of basic services.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phawker contributor Simone Secci was born and raised in Rome, where he currently lives and works.

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