Vintage: Italy’s Amatrice Earthquake of 2016 remembered
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has paid tribute to the victims of an earthquake that devastated entire towns five years ago. Nearly 300 people were killed when the 6,2-magnitude quake struck central Italy in the early hours of 24 August 2016. The claimed 299 lives when it razed much of Amatrice and pummelled the neighbouring villages of Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto in the rugged, hilly region of Italy. It was the first of more than a dozen tremors that hit the region over the following months and left thousands of people homeless. Approximately 4 400 people were involved in the search and rescue operations, including 70 teams with rescue dogs. Logistics made use of 12 helicopters, with nine more in stand-by.
As many as 237 people were buried under the rubble in Amatrice, a medieval hill town that is the birthplace of Italy’s famed Amatriciana pasta dish. A further 51 people were killed in the nearby municipality of Arquata and 11 others in Accumoli.
Its epicentre was close to Accumoli, with its hypocentre at a depth of 5,1km, approximately 75km southeast of Perugia and 45km north of L'Aquila, in an area near the borders of the Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Marche regions.
10 000 homeless people were accommodated in 58 tents. Sports halls were converted to provide shelter and hotels on the Adriatic coasts were used to temporarily home people. Many rescue workers arrived within an hour of the earthquake. 5 000 soldiers, alpine guides and the Italian Red Cross were involved in searching for survivors, providing food and water and supplying tents. Seventy dog teams and twelve helicopters were involved in the rescue effort.
Six of the Vatican’s 37 fire fighters have travelled to Amatrice to help civil protection workers look for survivors.
A temporary hospital was set up and patients at Amazatrice hospital, which was severely damaged during the earthquake, were transferred to a nearby hospital in Rieti.
Appeals were made by the national blood donation service to ensure demand was met.
Safety check features were activated by Facebook so local people could inform family and friends they were safe.
Locals removed passwords from wi-fi at the request of the Italian Red Cross so rescue teams could communicate more effectively.
A €50 million emergency response was announced by the Italian Government. Taxes for residents were cancelled and reconstruction work began immediately.
In addition to those rescued with the help of other inhabitants or escaped by themselves, 238 people were pulled alive from the rubble by the timely intervention of the authorities, 215 by the Vigili del Fuoco and 23 by the Soccorso Alpino.
In addition to the loss of human life, widespread destruction of cultural heritage is also reported. In Amatrice, the facade and rose window of the Church of Sant'Agostino were destroyed and the museum dedicated to the painter Nicola Filotesio, student and companion of Raphael, collapsed. The earthquake also created cracks in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. The earthquake was so broad that authorities made structural tests on the Colosseum as well, which was not damaged.
The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, a UNESCO World Heritage site with frescoes by Giotto and Cimabue that were partly destroyed by an earthquake in 1997, was declared safe after an extensive survey by the head restorer. 3D computer models were used to help damage assessment of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Church of Sant'Agostino. The data for building the models was collected by robots deployed by the European project TRADR. Two ground robots and one drone were used inside the San Francesco Basilica, one drone was used inside the Sant'Agostino church and two drones were used on the outside of both churches.
Scientists with the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) project, a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, were an integral part of NASA’s support to the earthquake response.
On Tuesday, 24 August 2021, Prime Minister Draghi laid a commemorative wreath at the monument to victims at the Don Minozzi Park in Amatrice on the fifth anniversary of the disaster. The Italian Prime Minister then took part in a Mass at a nearby sports field attended by local residents and vowed to accelerate reconstruction efforts in the region.
Italian Government officials had pledged to rebuild Amatrice’s crumbled historic centre and other nearby towns following the earthquake but bureaucratic problems have slowed the effort to a crawl. "In the past it was slow but now the situation is different," Draghi told a committee of residents, according to a statement. “Reconstruction work is proceeding faster. I’m here to bring you the confidence and commitment of the Government."
Recently a Government-appointed commissioner for reconstruction announced that the project was speeding up amid a streamlined process to approve plans and funding. According to a status update in June, 12 000 homes had been built and work was underway at 5 000 more sites.
To date, residents and business owners have made requests for reconstruction funding totalling €5,4 billion. One-third of the 10 000 requests authorised to date received approval in the first six months of this year, the report
Sources: Euro News, Applied Sciences, The New York Times, European Union, Time Magazine, NASA, Internet Geography