News / Europe

L'Aquila Remembers 2009 Earthquake Victims

Multimedia

Audio
Sabina Castelfranco

One year ago, Italy experienced its deadliest earthquake in three decades in the central city of L'Aquila. Three hundred eight people were killed and tens of thousands were left homeless. Torch-lit processions were held on Monday night and a Roman Catholic mass was held at early Tuesday morning in the Basilica of Collemaggio to remember the victims.

At 3.32 a.m., the time the deadly quake struck last April 6, a requiem was played in L'Aquila's central Piazza Duomo. The names of all 308 victims were read aloud. No one in the town has been able to forget the tragedy.

Sergio Bianchi lost his 22-year-old son, Nicola.

"It's difficult," he says. "There's lots of anger, discouragement and solitude."

Residents were asleep in their beds when the 6.3 magnitude quake struck. People fled their homes in L'Aquila and in more than 40 surrounding towns and villages. Many were unable to get out fast enough. Thousands of buildings were reduced to rubble, including centuries old churches.

Survivor Sergio Bianchi says poor construction heightened the death toll.

He says earthquakes are natural events, but if homes were built properly, the L'Aquila quake would not have been so devastating.

Most of downtown L'Aquila is still off-limits, as is the historic districts of most surrounding towns. Although tent cities have disappeared, tens of thousands of people still are living in some form of temporary housing.

The head of Italy's civil defense department, Guido Bertolaso, says much has been done over the past 12 months.

He says students have been able to return to school and new homes have been built for tens of thousands of people.

Joshua Lawrence used to live in L'Aquila. His house was severely damaged by the quake. He and his family are now renting an apartment in Pescara, Abruzzo's – a modern city on Italy's Adriatic coast. Lawrence says the L'Aquila he knew no longer exists.

"There's nothing. There's one bar open. There's no place to just hang out. There's no way to live in this city," Lawrence said. "There was a university in town. There were thousands of people animating the downtown, keeping it alive. And that's just not there anymore."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says it will take years to rebuild L'Aquila delicate, urban and artistic heritage. But he says, residents must be confident because the reconstruction is underway.

The mayor of L'Aquila, Massimo Cialente, sums up feelings of most people who experienced the quake.

"Don't forget us," he says. "That's what people here want – not to be forgotten because this is just the beginning."

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More