Your Report: Earthquake rattles Italy
- April 6, 2009 3:49 PM |
- By Your Voice
Submitted by Gerard Power
The death toll in Monday's devastating earthquake in central Italy could be as high as 150, an official with Italy's Civil Protection Agency told CBC News. The medieval city of L'Aquila was hardest hit by the pre-dawn quake that rocked the Apennine mountains. The quake struck about 110 kilometers northeast of Rome at 3:32 a.m. local time Monday.
About: Gerard Power is an Ottawa lawyer, who is married to an Italian-Canadian from the Abruzzo region of Italy. He and his wife have been visiting family in the area. He shares his account of the deadly quake below.
My take: Last night my wife and I woke to the sound of a freight train but we were a long way from any train. It was, instead an earthquake. Until the first tremor stopped, the room shook, and the noise was unquestionably that of an earthquake. After about 20 seconds it stopped. There were many aftershocks, but nothing as alarming as the first.
Many people went out into the street for safety, and stayed there until they were confident that it was over. The city we are visiting is about 50 km from L'Aquila. Avezzano had been completely destroyed by an earthquake at the beginning of the last century. The collective memory of that destruction is current.
Throughout the day people we met shared their experiences. There is a common feeling of shock. L'Aquila is the provincial capital and is a university town. In each community that we visited we heard stories of the young people who were missing or dead. Many said that official figures of the toll were deliberately underestimated to reduce panic. Many roads are closed to all but emergency vehicles, as parents try to reach their children.
In one town we spoke with a young woman who had been visiting friends in L'Aquila, she arrived with the news that another student had died. "You remember the ragazza who drove the black and white scooter she was always so happy," she recounted. There is such anguish as people await news of family and friends.
Help is now coming in from all over Italy, and perhaps elsewhere. Hotels are being filled with the homeless, railway sleeper cars as well. While there is little, if any, physical damage here in Avezzano, the human toll is a reflection of the close connections in this mountainous region.
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