- Title: ITALY: Abruzzo still feeling effects of earthquake, one month on
- Date: 7th May 2009
- Summary: WOMAN SEATED WITH HAND IN HER HAIR (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) HOMELESS WOMAN VALENTINA GUIDI SAYING: "The situation is getting worse. Even the kitchen. For example today the kitchen closed at ten to two because there was no more food. How is it possible to go on like this? ONNA, ITALY (MAY 5, 2009) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RUBBLE AND RUINS IN THE DESTROYED CITY OF ONNA, ITALY
- Embargoed: 22nd May 2009 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAD822REF6G1T5WWC4PB8NYU07X
- Story Text: No one in the Abruzzo region of Italy will ever forget the early morning hours of April 6 when an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 ripped through the area and changed their lives forever.
Nearly 300 people were killed, fifty towns were affected and some 60,000 people were left homeless.
One month on and the area of Onna and L'Aquila looks pretty much the same. Rubble lies on the streets, collapsed buildings remain where they fell and a sense of fatigue has swept into the tent camps as the homeless inhabitants suffer weeks of rain.
Some good news has come out of the tragedy. The medieval town of Onna where at least 40 people out of 250 residents were killed is about to receive construction aid from Germany. Onna was under Nazi control in June 1944 and the location of a summary execution with 17 civilians shot.
"To tell you the truth, Germany has today a great opportunity' said the German Ambassador to Italy, Michael Steiner.
"Sixty-five years have gone by since the Wermacht carried out a summary execution of seventeen innocent civilians in Onna. I believe now, after this tragic event has hit Onna, we have the occasion to do some good," he said.
Aside from the offers of help and reconstruction the residents of Abruzzo are still traumatised after the quake. Special civil protection units have been set up to cater for their needs and one of the top priorities at this stage is to treat the people for shock.
"There are a large number of people, who from a psychological perspective, and it is easy to understand, are too scared to go back home," said Fabrizio Curcio, Director of the Emergency Department of the Civil Protection Unit.
"We are working on trying to help people in their fight against this fear. It is obvious they have been strongly affected and are in shock," he said.
Shortly after the quake hit, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi joked that the homeless could look at their stay in tents as a sort of camping weekend. But after suffering the cold and rain for a month the inhabitants of the some 200 tent camps scattered around the region are fed up and concerned about the future.
"It is only now that we have really started to understand what has happened to us. Before we were too busy escaping, thinking about our homes, tents and things like that, so we didn't really realise what had happened," said one of the homeless, Franco Cocco.
"Now that the situation seems to have calmed down, we have been hit by reality," he added.
Berlusconi has promised the homeless the government will provide them with temporary wooden houses by the end of the year and not abandon them. But the trauma of what has happened is expected to take many months before it wears off.
"We are holding group meetings. Group meetings are important as in the group it is possible to share experiences as well as emotions, especially the negative ones. This sharing helps people to try and regain some kind of normal life and not be so afraid," said psychologist Viavianna de Pellegrini.
On top of dealing with the trauma of the earthquake it is the day to day problems in the camps - from the long queues to use the washrooms to the occasional food shortages - that are testing the survivors' morale.
"The situation is getting worse. Even the kitchen. For example today the kitchen closed at ten to two because there was no more food. How is it possible to go on like this?" said Valentina Guidi, who was made homeless by the earthquake.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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