Earthquake survivors protest in Rome over delays in recovery

AFP - [email protected]
Earthquake survivors protest in Rome over delays in recovery
The protesters. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Hundreds of Italians whose homes were devastated in a series of deadly earthquakes protested in Rome on Wednesday at the slow pace of government aid.


The demonstrators, many of them from mountain villages left in ruins by the earthquakes which rocked Italy in August and October, urged the government to move faster on providing aid to populations still reeling from disaster.

With some wearing sashes in the red, white and green of the Italian flag, they marched through Rome's historic city centre toward the Montecitorio parliament building, carrying signs reading: "To rebuild, we need hearts and hands. Where are yours?"

Another held up a placard reading: "Bureaucracy kills more than the earthquake."

READ MORE: Five months after the earthquake, Amatrice residents say 'nothing has changed'

"We came to protest the government's delays on reconstruction work," protest coordinator Mirko Fioravanti told AFP, saying little had been done in since August.

"Few things have been accomplished in five months, not even the essential," he said.

"Even if the task is great, things could have been done in a manner better suited to the situation, and definitely much faster."

Among the crowd were survivors from Amatrice, the mountain town devastated by the August quake which left nearly 300 people dead, while others came from the towns of Accumoli, Norcia, and Arquata del Tronto.

Last year's quakes left thousands of homes in ruins or structurally unsafe, emptying a string of villages and small towns across Italy's mountainous central regions, with an estimated 40,000 people forced to find shelter.

'Cumbersome procedures'

Writing on Facebook, former prime minister Matteo Renzi said the delivery of temporary homes for quake victims was due to take place "before Easter".

But Francesca Mileto, another protest coordinator, said the pace was too slow.

"We want to shock the bureaucracy into speeding up these cumbersome procedures," she told AFP.

The protest came as rescuers recovered the final bodies at the Hotel Rigopiano in central Italy which was buried by a wall of snow on January 18th.

By late on Wednesday evening, rescuers have found the bodies of all 29 missing people, but until now, only half of them have been formally identified, officials said.

Post mortems on the first six victims found concluded that they died either by being crushed, suffocated or through cold, although hypothermia was never the sole cause of death, prosecutor Cristina Tedeschini said.

Eleven people, including all four children who were at the hotel with their families, survived.

The deadly avalanche followed the heaviest snowfall in the central mountains in decades and may have been triggered by a series of earthquakes which rocked the region earlier the same day.

Aside from the hotel disaster, the combination of the extreme weather and the quakes has claimed another 11 lives.

Six of them died when a helicopter crashed at the Campo Felice ski resort on Tuesday.

A prosecutor is examining whether the disaster could have been avoided with better risk-assessment procedures and has opened a manslaughter probe to determine if anyone was responsible for the deaths, through negligence or otherwise.

But Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has warned against launching a hunt for scapegoats to assuage the grief of those who have lost loved ones.

"We are proud of the emergency services who were confronted with absolutely exceptional snowfalls and two of whom gave their lives," Gentiloni told parliament on Wednesday, referring to two mountain rescuers who died in the helicopter crash.

"Authorities mobilized with all their energy," he added.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also