Friday, 1 June 2012

Earthquakes in Italy

Regulars on my blog may remember that in April Neil and I went on a day trip to Emilia Romagna, the region just north of us.  It hasn't been hitting the international news much, but Emilia Romagna has been badly hit by a series of earthquakes.  Two of around magnitude 6 have hit the region in the last two weeks and there are continuous aftershocks (more than 80) of magnitude 5 or more.   Some of these have been felt by people living in Pietrasanta - but up here in the hills we don't feel anything at all - thankfully.  My memories of the Christchurch earthquakes in New Zealand still give me nightmares. Waking up in the dark feeling the house shaking itself apart around you isn't a good feeling.  This 'seismic event' isn't over yet - there was another big shock last night bringing more buildings down and sending terrified people out into the streets.  We have been watching the tragedy unfold on our television screens and our hearts go out to the people whose lives are being - literally - torn apart.



There are more than 30 dead, hundreds wounded and thousands homeless. 
 
Several factories collapsed.  This is the industrial heartland of Italy, the engine that drives the economy, and the damage caused by the quakes will hit an already struggling economy very hard.  One quirky positive - it's now possible to buy some very cheap Parmesan cheese on the internet.   The racks where the cheeses are stacked were brought down in the quakes.   When you realise that Parmesan retails for at least 24 euros per kilo (and that's the cheapest), there is literally a fortune in cheese to be salvaged.



Apart from the loss of life, injury and destruction of people's homes, the area has lost some of its most important historical buildings.  Bologna, Padua, Modena were all affected, and Ferrara and the inappropriately named San Felice also lost buildings of great historical significance.   Ferrara lost the Castle Estense, which used to look like this; 


but now looks like this and the rest is either badly cracked or reduced to rubble.



This beautiful clock tower was shattered.  

 
As the photographer was filming, there was another aftershock and the rest came crumbling down.



The fault line went right across the landscape.


It's a sobering reminder that for all our 'advanced' technology, we live on a violent and unpredictable planet that can alter our lives at any second.

6 comments:

  1. I was wondering if you had felt the quakes there. They definitely made the news in New Zealand (I heard about the cheeses, too!). It's very sad to see such beautiful buildings destroyed - not to mention the lives lost, of course.
    We are constantly hearing here of more buildings that have to come down. I do hope there will be a few historic buildings left when it is all over - the Arts Centre and Museum will be saved, I think, and archaeologists are working on the Provincial Chambers to salvage the historic artifacts, and hopefully rebuild it.

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  2. It's sobering and tragic - I can't imagine what it would be like to be caught up in as you say, such a 'seismic' event. The pictures are astonishing and I just wonder why haven't we seen more coverage of this on our screens here.

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  3. I too was wondering if you had been affected directly (then you posted about the kittens and I assumed not).
    The quakes made the news down here the clock tower and the collapsed racks of Parmesan Cheese were the main images used.
    I am sorry to hear you still get nightmares over your NZ experience.
    Quakes, floods, fires, storms all these things remind us that while we are in control of so much we are very much still just a little part of this amazing world.

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  4. Dear Kathy
    We are sometimes smug here in England - rather safer from natural disasters. But then there are the man-made industrial accidents like the children of Aberfan and historic pit disasters. As always you make me think. Your natural empathy always responds to the elements around you, good and bad. I had the thought that the natural disasters make us humble as we realise our own smallness in the vast nexus of the natural world. WX

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  5. What amazing pictures - the clock tower is particularly poignant.
    Very sobering, you're right, Kathy, and our thoughts go out to all the people whose lives have ben affected by these terrible events.

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  6. Thanks for all your comments - there was another big quake last night, 5.1 and the medieval tower in Modena came down, another factory and several more people killed. About a hundred sq miles of farm land has lost its water supply due to a shift underground and this will affect the fruit and vegetable crops. Like Christchurch, residents here are beginning to wonder how long this series of quakes will continue and how much more damage it will do.

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