Millennium Post

Bulldozers work to clear out Italy’s quake-hit towns

Bulldozers with huge claws and other heavy equipment clanked down the streets of Italy’s quake-devastated town of Amatrice on Sunday, pulling down dangerously overhanging ledges and clearing rubble as investigators tried to figure out if negligence in enforcing building codes added to the high death toll.

Italy’s state museums, meanwhile, embarked on a fundraising campaign, donating their proceeds on Sunday to relief and reconstruction efforts in the earthquake zone.

In addition to killing 291 people and injuring hundreds, Wednesday’s 6.2 magnitude quake flattened three medieval towns in central Italy, destroying not only private homes but also churches and other centuries-old cultural treasures.

The idea is to use art for art harnessing the nation’s rich artistic heritage to help recover and restore other objects of beauty in the hard-hit towns.

Culture Minster Dario Franceschini had appealed to Italians to “go to museum in a sign of solidarity with people affected by the earthquake.” On Twitter, the appeal came along with the hashtag #museums4italy.

It’s one of several efforts that have sprung up to help the towns rebuild restaurants in Italy and elsewhere are also serving up pasta Amatriciana, the region’s most famous dish, in another fundraising effort.

Amatrice bore the brunt of destruction with 230 fatalities and a town turned to rubble. Eleven others died in nearby Accumoli and 50 more in Arquata del Tronto, 16 kilometres north of Amatrice.

Overnight was relatively calm, the first since the quake struck without strong aftershocks. In all, the region has seen 1,820 aftershocks, according to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

On Saturday, mourners prayed, hugged, wept and even applauded as coffins carrying earthquake victims passed by at a state funeral in the town of Ascoli Piceno.

The caskets of 35 people had been brought to a community gym one of the few structures in the area still intact. The local bishop, Giovanni D’Ercole, celebrated Mass beneath a crucifix he had retrieved from one of the damaged churches.

Pope mulls Italy quake visit as survivors and rescue dig in
Pope Francis said on Sunday he wanted to visit some of the central Italian villages devastated in this week’s earthquake, as survivors and rescue workers dug in for the long haul with winter approaching.

Francis said the Catholic Church shared the “suffering” of the victims of the quake that claimed nearly 300 lives and pledged: “As soon as possible, I hope to come and see you.” 

The Argentine pontiff told thousands of worshippers gathered for the Angelus prayer in Rome’s Saint Peter’s square he had a “spiritual closeness” to residents of the mountain villages in a remote area straddling the Umbria, Marche and Lazio regions.

Meanwhile, as hope faded of finding anyone else alive and the search for bodies nearly complete, rescue workers and survivors turned their attention to a bleak future, with winter around the corner.

“We’re getting ready for winter. Given what’s happened in other quakes, we’re going to spend winter here,” said Emidio Chiappini, from the devastated Sant’Angelo village.

The government has pledged to support immediate reconstruction and Chiappini said he hoped authorities would send pre-fabricated housing to stave off the frost that will soon descend on the mountainous region.

The Italian government has freed up around 60 million euros ($67 million) in immediate aid, added to which will be approximately 10 million euros in donations.

“Basically, we know we’re going to be here for three or four months. That’s not official, but we have got the equipment for that,” said a volunteer for the civil protection agency who gave his name as Nicola.
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