‘Sorry mum’: Italian billboard apology highlights burial crisis

An Italian man has posted a message to his late mother on giant billboards around Rome in a bid to shame the authorities into providing burial plots for the city's dead.

'Sorry mum': Italian billboard apology highlights burial crisis
One of the bullboards i central Rome aimed at highlighting the burial crisis. Photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP

“Mum, I’m sorry I’ve not been able to have you buried yet,” reads the message, on nine-by-seven-metre billboards around the city which, like the rest of Italy, is still battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Oberdan Zuccaroli put them up both as a tribute to his late mother and to draw attention to the burial crisis, which he says is “affecting lots of people”.

READ ALSO: More people died in Italy in 2020 than in any year since World War II

Rome’s Prima Porta cemetery “is no longer doing burials, there are hundreds of coffins waiting”, Zuccaroli told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I don’t know why, but they stay there for months.”

Zuccaroli, who runs a billboards firm and plans to put up another 250 posters, said his mother died on March 8th, aged 85, of a heart attack.

But she has yet to be buried, and the same applies to his aunt, who died on January 9th of another non-virus related condition.

One of the boards in Rome, reading “Sorry mum that I still can’t get you buried”. Photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP

Il Messaggero also reported Wednesday that the Prima Porta cemetery this week stopped accepting coffins for cremations.

AMA, the city hall agency that manages cemeteries in the Italian capital, issued a statement Monday insisting the situation was under control and that efforts were continuing to free up burial spaces.

It had been confronted with a 30-percent increase in deaths, year-on-year, during the October 2020-March 2021 period, it said.

Italian army trucks transporting the coffins of victims of Covid-19 from the city of Bergamo to crematoriums in other regions on March 26th, 2020. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Deaths have surged all over Italy due to the pandemic. According to official statistics, the coronavirus has killed more than 115,500 people.

In the early stages of the crisis, the northern city of Bergamo had to call in the army for help when it could no longer bury or cremate its dead.

Pictures of the lines of coffin-laden military trucks taking coffins from Bergamo to other towns became one of the symbols of the pandemic in Italy and beyond.

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Anti-vaxxer assaults Covid-era Italian PM Conte at rally

An anti-vax campaigner on Friday assaulted Italy's former premier Giuseppe Conte, who imposed strict restrictions at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, his political party said.

Anti-vaxxer assaults Covid-era Italian PM Conte at rally

Conte was “attacked by an anti-vaxxer in Massa”, a small Tuscan city where he was attending an election rally, his opposition party the Five Star Movement wrote on Facebook.

News agency Ansa said the man struck Conte in the face, blaming him for the lockdown policies imposed during the pandemic and other measures. Police officers later took him away.

As well as his own party, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her “solidarity” with Conte.

“Any form of violence must be condemned without hesitation,” Meloni said in a statement. “Dissent must be civil and respectful of people and political groups.”

Prime minister from June 2018 to February 2021, Conte was the head of government when the Covid-19 outbreak suddenly struck northern Italy in February 2020.

Italy was the first country outside China to suffer a major outbreak of Covid-19.

The virus has killed nearly 190,000 people in Italy to date, according to the health ministry.

Conte imposed stringent coronavirus restrictions in the early phase of the pandemic, including an economically crippling shutdown and the mandating of face masks in public.

His successor as prime minister, Mario Draghi, imposed a compulsory coronavirus health pass in September 2021 tied to the Covid-19 vaccine.

Conte’s early decisions during the breakout, including one not to impose “red zones” in two hard-hit areas, are the subject of an ongoing judicial inquiry.

Investigating magistrates suspect that Conte and his government underestimated the contagiousness of Covid-19 even though available data showed that cases were spreading rapidly.