One year on: Norcia remembers powerful earthquake

The Umbrian town of Norcia on Monday commemorated the year anniversary of a 6.5-magnitude earthquake which left much of its centre destroyed.

One year on: Norcia remembers powerful earthquake
The quake destroyed most of Norcia's centre. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

It was the most powerful quake to strike Italy in 36 years, leaving thousands homeless and flattening the walled town’s 600-year-old Basilica of Saint Benedict and several other churches.

Miraculously, nobody died, mainly owing to the fact that many had fled their homes following a 6.2 magnitude tremor which struck nearby two months earlier, killing almost 300 people, the majority in the Lazio town of Amatrice.

A quake had also hit a few days earlier, badly damaging the nearby villages of Visso and Ussita.

A series of events are planned on Monday and over the next few days to commemorate the anniversary.

Just a handful of shops and restaurants have reopened in Norcia as leaders strive to attract visitors to return to an area that’s famous for its food and Sibillini mountain range. Norcia used to have a population of around 4,000, but only a few hundred remain.

Reconstruction of the towns affected by the 2016 series of earthquakes has been severely delayed by stifling red tape, with thousands of people still living in hotels or prefab houses.

Meanwhile, less than 10 percent of the 4,000 tonnes of rubble littering the 140 hamlets, towns and cities affected has been cleared, with anti-corruption controls slowing work on the ground.

Much of Italy's land mass and some of its surrounding waters are prone to seismic activity with the highest risk concentrated along its mountainous central spine.

Italy straddles the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, making it vulnerable to seismic activity when they move.

A relatively small 4.0-magnitude quake in August was enough to topple several houses on the island of Ischia off Naples, killing two people. Geologists have insisted that a tremor of that level would not be lethal if homes had been built properly.


Turkish community in Germany gathers to help earthquake victims

The earthquake in Turkey and northern Syria has shaken the whole of Germany - but especially those who have relatives in the disaster area. 

Turkish community in Germany gathers to help earthquake victims

In dozens of cities in Germany, donations are being collected for victims of the massive earthquake, which as of Wednesday afternoon had claimed more than 11,000 lives.

People are bringing tent stoves, flashlights, diapers, fleece blankets, and hand warmers. One of the many collection points has been organized by the German-Turkish care service Dosteli in Berlin.

At the governmental level, Germany — home to about three million people of Turkish origin — will” mobilise all the assistance we can activate”, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Wednesday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had a call with Erdogan and sent his “deep condolences”, as a search and rescue team left Tuesday afternoon with 50 rescuers and equipment. 

​​The EU said it was “funding humanitarian organisations that are carrying out search and rescue operations” in Syria as well as providing water and sanitation support and distributing blankets.

Charities line up to help

Particularly in Berlin, where over eight percent of the population is of Turkish origin, people have lined up down streets to drop off supplies. But they have led large donation efforts in cities like Frankfurt and Hamburg, where several businesses like bars set aside space to collect supplies,

The Dostali team had been sorting clothes and hygiene items all night, packing them and loading them into trucks. “Almost the entire Turkish diaspora in Berlin was there,” one volunteer told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)

The helpers organized themselves via appeals in social media. From the collection points, the donations are to be transported by trucks and planes to the affected regions. 

READ ALSO: Who are Germany’s foreign population and where do they live?

In response to an inquiry from the FAZ, Turkish Airlines confirmed that it was delivering donations from 14 countries to the Turkish crisis areas, Germany being one of them.

The Turkish community in Germany is well connected via social media – “and everyone wants to help,” said Kübra Oguz, a volunteer with the Puduhepa e.V., initiative founded by Turkish migrant women.

In order for this to happen in a targeted manner, she recommended directly donating money, which could then be funneled to buy food, hygiene products or shoes, depending on the need.

Several organisations in Germany and worldwide are also accepting donations for humanitarian aid, include UNICEF, Save the Children and Aktion Deutschland Hilft.

With reporting from AFP.