By Paulina Anaya.
A catastrophic event? Yes. And one that’s left one of the leading tourism attractions in the European Union in tears. Well known for its fine cuisine and wine, Italy was struck by an earthquake measured to be 6.2 ± 0.016 on the moment magnitude scale, on August 24th at exactly 03:36 (1:36 GMT) hours. The central Apennines keep nearby towns threatened with seismic activity. The quake shook central Italy, with Accumoli being especially close to the epicenter, and spared no man or town. It is said to be the most destructive earthquake to strike the country since L’Aquila in 2009, being 6.3 in magnitude.
Some of the more affected towns include Accumoli, Amatrice, Arquata del Tronto, and Pescara del Tronto. The death toll has reached and 290 killed and that number is expected to rise in the following days as rescue efforts continue. Unfortunately, aftershocks and location have made relief efforts difficult.
Italy showed solidarity toward the victims of the quake by pledging to donate Sunday’s proceeds from all public museums across the country to aid reconstruction in the region, authorities pleaded everyone visit museums on this day. Additionally, many Italian restaurants who serve Amatriciana pasta, a tomato-based pasta dish which made Amatrice famous, have decided to donate one euro for every dish of Amatriciana sold. The quake arrived days before the much anticipated annual “Festival of the Spaghetti all’Amatriciana” which attracts thousands of tourists and foodies from across the globe every year. However, in a mourning country, and a town trying to bury its dead, no one has time to think about food.
A Sliver of Hope Amidst The Rubble Raises Concerns
What once was one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, surviving various conquests and invasions, and having stood the test of time, “is no more”, as stated by the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi. Back in the olden days, construction regulations were almost nonexistent, so historical towns are not subject to complying with anti-quake building statutes, which currently account for part of the disaster in the quake-struck region. Few things remain that will remind future generations of what used to be Amatrice, the most remarkable being a 13th-century clock tower that appears to be frozen in time as it remains virtually intact in the midst of a city that turned to rubble in a matter of seconds. Investigations will soon be underway as concerns are on the rise about the percentage of human culpability on the collapsed buildings, especially regarding the newer constructions which should adhere to earthquake-resistant building regulations. If proven, families could be looking to receive thousands of euros for their lost ones on behalf of the responsible contractors. Whichever the outcome, the damage has been done in Amatrice and elsewhere; full recovery and reconstruction will take anywhere from months to years, and no matter the compensation or how many times the towns are rebuilt, this disaster will remain in the hearts and minds of Italians forever. We cannot prevent natural disasters, but the best we can do anywhere is be prepared to contend with nature’s forces.