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Tragedy And Bespoiled Beauty – l’Aquila

  • April 7th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

laquila.JPGRescue workers had counted 150 dead with 1500 people injured and thousands homeless twenty-four hours after the earthquake which hit l’Aquila and surrounding districts, in Central Italy, early on Monday (6.4.09).


They hoped to be able to rescue more believed trapped under rubble and feared also the death toll would rise substantially.

laquila-damage.jpgHeavy rain had been hampering the rescue operation and the relief effort for some 100 000 citizens of the region being re-located temporarily, many in villages of tents.


The State of Emergency declared in the small Italian city (population 73 000), in the mountains 100 kilometres East North-east of Rome, is not a new experience for the Italian peninsula.

italy-quakes-usgs2-resize.jpgItaly has two earthquake fault lines, and devastating eruptions have marked its history.

Some of the cities with well documented records of such disasters, over the Centuries:-

Pompeii (AD63); Ischia (1301); Augusta (1693, 1848); Foggia (1731); Avellino (1930, 1980).


Cultural cost of the devastation to the mediaeval old town of l’Aquila, preserved within encircling walls, will be as irreparable as the loss of life.

The impact of the earthquake spread throughout its region, Abruzzo, home to 1.25 million people in dozens of small towns or villages.

Comment from The Guardian (7.4.09):

“Unknown outside of the country until today, this university town had none of the crowds associated with other Italian medieval attractions, and retained at its heart the vitality of pre-industrial Italy.

laquila-townscape.jpg“Despite being packed with bohemian student bars, there was a somnolent ease to the city. It tried to out-Christmas even German cities with its romantic seasonal market, speciality chocolates and spiced warm wines.

laquila-landscape.jpg“During the skiing season, mountains surrounding the city brought Romans an hour up the A24 to sport on slopes that once made Abruzzo nearly inaccessible to the Roman empire …

“The region of Abruzzo …was being promoted as a ‘green’ destination.

“‘It was really just starting as a tourist destination, and even as an alternative to buy property for British visitors with the new Ryanair route to Pescara,’ said Stefania Gatta of Italy’s tourist board.‘Its difficult to say what impact the quake will have…’

“Santo Stefano di Sessanio, high in the Abruzzi Apennines, is only 10 miles from the epicentre of the earthquake, and yet survived nearly unscathed. Hotelier Daniele Kihlgren said: ‘The restoration we did was very conservative, which is probably why we survived. Most of the buildings destroyed in the earthquake today were modern and concrete. It is perhaps a testament to the ‘real Italy’.’”


Michael Fitzpatrick, “Italy earthquake: the university town of L’Aquila”, The Guardian, Manchester, 7.4.09., (7.4.09)

US Geological Survey, Earthquakes Hazards Program, Italy Earthquake Information., (7.4.09).


L’Aquila, Wikipedia, uni-Leipzig; Italy seismological map, USGS