L’Aquila: Two Years On – An Abandoned City

On the 6th April 2009, at 3:32 am, an earthquake rated 5.8 hit the medieval city of L’Aquila, capital of the Abruzzo region of Italy. 308 people died, with thousands more losing their homes, shops and businesses. Around 40,000 people made instantly homeless set up temporary, tented camps, with a further 10,000 re-housed in hotels and hostels in the region. Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, caused controversy with his remarks to the international media likening the victims’ experiences to a ‘camping holiday’.
Medieval buildings and churches were badly effected, but modern buildings were also badly affected, as banks, shops and cinemas all suffered huge cracks and severe damage.  A dormitory of the L’Aquila University collapsed, trapping many students as they slept. Inadequate construction and poor materials were blamed for the high level of damage to the buildings.  An eye witnesses said as the buildings collapsed you could see how the concrete had been poorly mixed with sand.  In May 2011, seven experts were under charge for failing to give adequate warning before the disaster, as early tremors and quake predictions were ignored.
Two years on, a large part of the town is still lying abandoned, crumbling and untouched. Whole districts and streets are barricaded off behind fences, creating a ghost town. The army still stand guard at street corners to prevent looters and stop people entering the boarded up shops and apartment blocks. Collapsing windows and whole buildings have been bandaged and braced by temporary structures, like external skeletons, awaiting the small team of engineers to survey and begin their restoration.  The frustrations of thousands of local people at this situation manifests itself through their staging of demonstrations with wheelbarrows – a symbol of their desire to clear the city of its rubble and bring it back to life.

“The city is still stuck, emptied of its inhabitants,” one local campaigner, Anna Colasanto, told the AFP news agency.
What is left standing tell’s the story so far…

The complete set of photos can be seen here – L’Aquila on Flickr
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