World·CBC IN ITALY

Trying to mourn the dead after quake leaves graves open in Italy

It was a day of national mourning in Italy on Saturday. But in the midst of an earthquake zone, still chaotic and reeling from aftershocks, it is not always easy to hold to formality.

People wait in the sun for hours as coffins delayed enroute from stricken town of Amatrice

Small towns across central Italy are grappling with the loss of loved ones, homes, even a way of life, CBC's Margaret Evans reports 2:43

It was a day of national mourning in Italy on Saturday. But in the midst of an earthquake zone, still chaotic and reeling from aftershocks, it is not always easy to hold to formality.

People gathered at a roadside cemetery not far from the stricken city of Amatrice certainly found it difficult. They stood outside its iron gate, seeking the shade of its brick walls for hours this morning.

The coffins carrying the bodies of at least four earthquake victims had been delayed by the organizational headache of visiting dignitaries in Amatrice and by roads and infrastructure under duress.

Augusto Severoni came to pay his respects for victims of Wednesday's earthquake. He's hoping to offer condolences to an old friend over the loss of his mother. (Richard Devey/CBC)

Augusto Severoni came to help one of his oldest friends bury his mother, his sister and his nephews. Severoni hasn't been able to physically visit his friend before now, he says, because the search and rescue people have been trying to keep people out of the city.

"When he arrives, I think it's going to be incredibly difficult both for him and for us as well, being able to console him in the way we want to," he says.

Mourners await the start of a funeral for victims of Wednesday's earthquake. (Richard Devey/CBC)

It can be hard to offer an old friend in need of a hug in the midst of so much turmoil, let alone support with such devastating loss.

And there are other indignities here. The wrath of the quake dug deep enough to disturb even those laid to rest long ago. The walls of old family tombs and catacombs have crumbled and shattered, spilling flower pots and picture frames and exposing coffins that haven't seen the sunlight for years.  

Wednesday's earthquake damaged this cemetery near Amatrice, exposing coffins in family tombs. (Richard Devey/CBC)

About the Author

Margaret Evans

Europe correspondent

Margaret Evans is a correspondent based in the CBC News London bureau. A veteran conflict reporter, Evans has covered civil wars and strife in Angola, Chad and Sudan, as well as the myriad battlefields of the Middle East.