April 6, 2009

The day the earth moved

Italy's most devastating earthquake in decades struck the inhabitants of L'aquila in the region of Abruzzo today.  With tens of thousands homeless and dozens confirmed dead, the rescue efforts continue.  

Situated on major fault lines, Italy has been plagued by earthquakes throughout its history and unfortunately one of those earthquakes hit very close to home for me.  The Irpinia earthquake of 1980 left thousands dead and injured and tens of thousands more homeless, directly affecting extended family and friends and leaving a generation scarred and saddled with the task of rebuilding entire towns and communities, a process which has literally taken decades.

My heart goes out to the residents of Abruzzo and their families.

In addition to human casualties, Italy's earthquakes also exacts a toll on the physical surroundings and already there are reports of damage to historical monuments in Abruzzo, including the Roman baths of Caracalla.

One of the most poignant reminders of the devastating impact of earthquakes is the town of Romagnano al Monte.  Pictured above, the ancient town had perched on a lip of the Apennines since the middle ages but was rendered uninhabitable in minutes by the Irpinia quake.  

The new town was rebuilt on a nearby site and today the old town stands abandoned amid breathtaking mountain vistas - an ethereal ghost town where houses still contain remnants of the lives of their former inhabitants - evidence of lives changed forever in an instant on the day the earth moved.

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