Remembering the victims of the L’Aquila earthquake

By Region Central Italy News

In the early hours of 6th April, a torchlight procession was held to remember the victims of the devastating L’Aquila earthquake, thirteen years ago. 309 people died when the Abruzzo town shook to its core.

Italy marked the 13th anniversary of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck L’Aquila in the early hours of 6 April 2009. 309 people died, 70,000 were left homeless and a further 50 villages were affected in the central Abruzzo region.

Torchlight procession

On Tuesday night the residents of L’Aquila held the now traditional torchlit procession through the city’s streets. In the past two years, the event was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A Midnight Mass remembered the victims and a huge blue beam of light was projected into the sky from the central Piazza Duomo. At precisely 03.32, the time the earthquake hit, church bells rang out 309 times; once for each of the victims.

The dead in L’Aquila, a university city, included 55 students killed when their halls of residence collapsed.  The 309 victims were of 11 different nationalities, including Italians.  The main shock was felt 92 km (57 miles) away in the Italian capital, Rome.

Many of L’Aquila’s medieval buildings were badly damaged, including the Basilica of Saint Bernardino of Siena, the city’s largest Renaissance church, and the Basilica di Santa Maria di Collemaggio, while the dome of the 18th-century church of Anime Sante in Piazza Duomo collapsed. Porta Napoli, the oldest gate to the city, was completely destroyed.

Reconstruction work slow

Thirteen years later, and works are still underway to reconstruct buildings.

Last May, Rome’s MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Arts opened a new contemporary art museum in L’Aquila, in the refurbished Palazzo Ardinghelli.

The Prime Minister of the time, Silvio Berlusconi, pledged to rehouse all of the homeless and provide ample funds to rebuild the city. However, reconstruction work was slow, mired in political wrangling, bureaucracy and corruption.

The tented camps remained in place for far longer than planned. Even 10 years on, some 2,000 families were still living in prefabricated, temporary accommodation.

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