Sadness Among the Ruins in Italy

Despair and fear at the first lunch as a survivor

By Antonia Williams Annunziata

GRISCIANO, Italy  There are more than two hundred people dead and many more displaced around Amatrice and the neighbouring towns following the earthquake that shook these towns for the past twenty-four hours. The mood is very tense and the people are reliving the horror of the earthquake that destroyed l’Aquila seven years ago. Their concerns lie with the Italian government and the disorganisation following the catastrophe.

“I’m unemployed, without a pension and my house is destroyed…” these are the first words of Bruno a husband and father of three. The fear and discomfort continues for hundreds of people in the small town of Grisciano neighbouring Amatrice, the epicentre of the earthquake.

The scene here is chaotic and disorganised, people have little faith left. Within the first few hours I can see at least 60 people varying from elderly around 80 years of age to children no younger than three, wrapping their minds around the idea that they will be living here for at least a month. The tents set up by the civil protection house from six to eight people but the problem reaches far more than the sleeping arrangement. Many ask themselves where they will go from there and what is to become of their homes.

A man by the name of Dino expresses his concerns as to what will become of their town which is made up of no more than 200 people. “Our point of reference in terms of jobs and tourism was Amatrice, but now that it’s gone we have nothing left… soon our town will be wiped out from maps.”

In the meantime a worker of the Italian Red Cross plays with the town children. He gets them to draw, play games and run around hoping to distract them [temporarily] as much as possible from the loss around them. Yet their drawings depict their houses without roofs or ambulances saving their friends, some even bodies and helicopters airlifting their neighbours. These kids are no younger than four.

The parents and other townspeople can’t be distracted. It’s lunchtime, some haven’t eaten nor slept in two days. Larger news teams have made it to this site and perhaps the cameras as intimidating and sometimes slightly menacing, as some shuffle out of sight and avoiding reporters.

There is a mother sitting next me eating her food with tears in her eyes, her son keeps asking her what’s wrong and she keeps replying, “nothing, what can I say there is nothing.”


Despair and fear at the first lunch as a survivor


Daniel Williams

Published by Daniel Williams

I am a former correspondent who, for more than 30 years, did time in China, Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and covered wars that went from episodic to non-stop. My book, "Forsaken," about Christian persecution in the Middle East came out January, 2016. NextWarNotes is a news and analysis blog designed to fill gaps, provide background and think about what’s next. The name of the site comes from a 1935 article by Ernest Hemingway in Esquire Magazine called “Notes on the Next War,” in which he predicted the coming conflagration in Europe, told why it would happen and warned Americans to stay out.

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