(click on pictures to enlarge)
Image Origin: USGS Map, CNN
The earthquakes in Abruzzo, central Italy, have caused havoc coming so soon after the previous ones in August and October. I was pottering around at home on Wednesday morning when I got a phone call from a friend asking if everything was okay at my place. Three earthquakes measuring between 5 to 5.5. on the Richter scale had taken place between 10.30 – 11.30 am about 100 km northeast of Rome. Tremors were more obvious in the east part of Rome whereas I live more towards the west. The Metro was shut down for a couple of hours as a precaution, and some schools and office buildings were evacuated. At 2.30 pm, another tremor occurred which I did feel but only because I happened to be looking out the window leaning againt a radiator and I felt it shake slightly.
The epicentre was in Montreale not far from Amatrice which had already been destroyed by the August earthquake. Heavy snow had fallen in the area a few days previously and it slowed down rescue teams getting to people who were left without heating, water or electricity. To make matters worse, it was raining when the earthquakes happened. Luckily, there were few deaths unlike after the one in August in Amatrice. Most of the casualties were due to an avalanche which hit a ski resort at the bottom of the Grand Sasso mountain in the Appenines. It caused the roof and upper storey of the hotel to collapse and moved the roof 10 metres down the mountain. There have been 10 deaths for sure and possibly more.
Italy lies on the edge of two of the earth’s major tectonic plates, the Eurasian and African. The grating of these plates against each other is responsible for volcanic activity of Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli in the south. There are fault lines along the Appenine mountains which stretch from north to south like a spine and which lead to the occurrence of shallow earthquakes. Abruzzo is in this area so it could well happen again.
As if the news of the earthquakes wasn’t bad enough, this was followed by Trump’s inauguration on Friday. I kept hoping that maybe it wouldn’t happen and that he would be impeached but no such luck. The only hopeful thing is the degree of protest. The women’s march on Saturday gleaned solidarity all over the world including here in Rome. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about it in time so I didn’t manage to go but I gather that there were a few hundred people in the Piazza outside the Pantheon. Now we just have to wait and see what happens next.
On a more positive note, the weather in Rome has warmed up again. Yesterday, as I came home from the market, it was sunny with blue skies and no hat or gloves were necessary. Then I noticed that this healthy palm seems to have survived the palm weevil disease which destroyed the other palms in the neighbourhood a couple of years ago. I found that a hopeful sign.