[en] Second quake hits Northern italy

17 dead, 350 injured and over 15,000 homeless: this is the toll of the second earthquake that hit the region of Emilia, in northern Italy, on May 29, at a magnitude of 5.8. Among the most heavily affected towns are San Felice sul Panaro, Cento, Crevalcore, Mirandola, Medolla. This is the second quake in 10 days to hit a zone traditionally considered at low-medium seismic risk. Schools and universities, as well as all public offices in Bologna and Modena, have been closed until further notice. Experts warn that new quakes may follow over the next few days.

These tragic events sparked immediate solidarity widely across the nation; in addition to many fundraising initiatives, private citizens, groups, associations, political parties and movements have found ways to help. To name only a few, several hotels and touristic facilities in the surrounding regions offered hospitality to the thousands of homeless, while a group of civil engineers in the Province of Modena offered to provide free-of-charge safety assessments; hospitality was also offered through the popular network CouchSurfing. Food, clothes and other primary goods have been collected spontaneously across the whole country.

At the same time, the quake falls within the context of a profoundly divided nation; it is no wonder that its management also sparked divisions and conflicts.

On his popular webpage, the founder and leader of the “Movimento Cinque Stelle” Beppe Grillo has supported the allegations of Dr. Giuliani, according to whom it is possible to ‘foresee’ earthquakes by using radon tracking, and claimed that this quake was an “announced tragedy”. However, Giuliani’s claims are not supported by scientific evidence, and many have criticized Grillo for voicing these opinions, at the same time accusing him of opportunism, both inside and outside the M5S movement.

On another front, many voices from left-leaning parties such as the SEL and the Federazione delle Sinistre, and the liberal party IDV have demanded that the traditional military parade on June 2 not take place and that its planned budget of 3 million euros be reallocated in support of the population hit by the earthquake. Precedents for this go back to 1976, when the parade was not held in solidarity with the victims of the earthquake in Friuli (the parade was not held until 1984, in order to comply with the austerity policies of the times). However, President Giorgio Napolitano has confirmed that the celebration will be held as planned, albeit soberly.

The proposed measure of raising the gas duties by 0.2% to raise an estimated amount of 500 million euros (to cover, at least partially, the allocated emergency fund of 2.5 billion) has also been met with wide criticism from many sides, claiming that the population should not be paying for the cost of natural disasters.

Finally, labour issues have been raised, since the majority of the victims were working at the time of the quake, including several migrant workers. In Mirandola, 3 people died in the collapse of the BBG plant (2 workers and the owner); 4 workers died at Midolla in the collapse of the Haemotronic building; another worker died in the collapse of the Aries pharmaceutical plant in Finale Emilia. Six of the 7 victims in the first seismic wave (on May 20) were also workers present during the collapse of their plants.

In San Felice sul Panaro, friends of one of the victims have criticized the haste with which the plants reopened, despite the fear of the workers. Many of the victims of the second earthquake were reportedly pressured to get back to work under the threat of dismissal, or felt they had no choice since they were working on short-term, precarious contracts. One of the 3 victims in Mirandola had been threatened dismissal, witness reports. Franco Gabrielli, head of the Civic Defense, found it appalling that plants built in the 2000s collapsed during an earthquake in 2012. The President of Confindustria, Giorgio Squinzi, has firmly rejected all criticism, suggesting that the collapsed plants were complying with all safety standards. Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor of Modena, Vito Zincan, has started an investigation, claiming that quakes with a magnitude between 4 and 6 should not normally provoke the collapse of such structures. The investigation will verify if the anti-seismic standards had been respected in all the collapsed plants built after 2003 (the year in which Emilia was first charted as a seismic zone).

Sources

– video [en] Video from BBC

– text [en] BBC News
– text [it] Il Manifesto
– text [it] Il Fatto Quotidiano
– text [it] Il corriere della sera
– text [it] la Stampa
– text [it] Repubblica
– text [it] Repubblica (local edition)
– text [it] Repubblica (local edition)
– text [it] Repubblica (local edition)
– text [fr] Liberation
– text [fr] LePoint.fr
– text [es] El Pais

– photo [es] Photos from El Pais

About Struggles in Italy

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One Response to [en] Second quake hits Northern italy

  1. Pingback: [en] Shock economy in post-earthquake Emilia | Struggles in Italy

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