Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Italy mourns deadly Emilia quakes on anniversary

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)

Rome, May 20 - Italy was in mourning Monday on the
one-year anniversary of the first in a series of devastating
earthquakes that struck the northern Emilia-Romagna region,
killing dozens of people, injuring several hundred and leaving
thousands homeless.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said the country was
united by the pain and the memory of the quakes.
"Tragedies of this kind inflict a serious wound on the
entire country, which must unite itself in the pain and in the
memory," said Napolitano in a statement.
The first quake, which struck just after 4:00 AM Italian
time on this day last year, measured a magnitude of 5.9 and was
followed by a 5.8-magnitude quake on May 29.
These and their aftershocks killed a total of 27 people,
while the economy in the area, long a powerhouse of Italian
industrial output, also suffered a huge blow, shaving an
estimated 1.0% off of Italy's entire gross domestic product
(GDP).
Among the hardest-hit industries was the region's prized
biomedical and agro-food hubs.
The Coldiretti farmers' association estimates that the
losses caused for the food sector alone amounted to one billion
euros, which included the cost of damage to machinery and
buildings such as stalls, barns, processing plants and
warehouses, and the loss of around one million wheels of the
region's famous Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) and Grana Padano
cheeses.
On Monday Coldiretti slammed Italian bureaucracy for
preventing "a single euro" in relief funds from reaching
agrobusinesses and farms in the year since the quake.
The "survey of damage and allocation of funds" was mired by
"an extremely fragmented and complex bureaucracy" of rules and
public administration that have made it impossible for funds to
reach the people and businesses who need them "at a pace
appropriate to the seriousness of the event".
Many buildings today remain in ruin, although the region's
efforts to get back on its feet have been widely hailed.
"In the certainty that the same spirit will continue to
give life to the reconstruction effort, I express my closeness
to all the stricken communities and all Italians," Napolitano
added.
Premier Enrico Letta said he will visit the region next
week to survey the recovery.
"I will be there to commemorate (the quake) and accelerate
the reconstruction," he said on Twitter. "(The next) 10 days
mark a sad anniversary".
The European Commission in December released 670 million
euros in assistance for the region and for surrounding areas
that were less severely damaged in the Veneto and Lombardy
regions.
It is the largest amount of aid ever granted under the
European Union Solidarity Fund.
The quakes also wreaked massive damage on historic
buildings, from ancient small towns, to cities that attract
visitors from all over the world, like Modena and Ferrara.
Some of the worst casualties in Ferrara - a UNESCO World
Heritage Site - were the cupola of its 15th-century church San
Cristoforo alla Certosa, the 14th-century show palace Palazzo
Schifanoia and the Este dynasty's former ruling seat the Castle
Estense.

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