People take part in a torchlight procession on Saturday night for victims of the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila. Photograph: EPA/Claudio Lattanzio
Church bells chimed 309 times at 3.32am yesterday as the central Italian town of L’Aquila recalled those killed in an earthquake there on April 6th, five years ago.
Earlier, at the conclusion of a candlelight procession, the names of all 309 victims were read out in the town’s central Piazza Duomo. Speaking at midnight Mass in the still ruined town, the Archbishop of AquilaGiuseppe Petrocchicalled the reconstruction “largely a spiritual enterprise”, partly in reference to the slow pace of rebuilding.
After the tragedy, then prime ministerSilvio Berlusconihad promised a “quick, transparent and safe” rebuilding programme. Five years on, 40,000 people remain without a home, 95 per cent of the rubble has yet to be removed while the heart of the city remains a ghost town, railed off and guarded by soldiers.
On top of that, L’Aquila has been hit by a series of judicial investigations into the allegedly corrupt handling of the reconstruction. Many believe some of the construction firms are linked to organised crime.
That suspicion was underlined in the spring of 2010 when, in the context of a judicial wiretap recorded shortly after the earthquake, one builder was heard to tell another he had been “laughing to myself in bed” at the thought of all the contracts to be had in L’Aquila.
In 2009, the Berlusconi government embarked on the creation of controversial “new towns” some distance outside L’Aquila, as a priority. Media commentators claim these towns lack a sense of community, that many of the new houses have serious structural problems and 5,000 have failed to meet local authority anti-seismic requirements.
(via the Irish Times)