It is a day of national mourning in Italy with a mass state funeral for the victims of the Abruzzo earthquake.
The number of victims creeps inexorably towards 300, and the nation will commemorate them this Good Friday with 150 coffins in a special mass in L’Aquila celebrated by the Vatican’s number two, Cardinal Bertone. The diggers are still finding bodies in the rubble and their work, and that of the rescuers, is still being hampered by strong aftershocks. “The search operations obviously continue, as we unfortunately still have some missing persons. It will probably go on at least until Sunday. Anyway, until when we are sure that there’s no-one missing,” said a rescue worker. But no survivors have now been found for 48 hours. Some 20 000 of those who did survive are now living in tents, without hot water or electricity. They also have to cope with the threat of more quakes. “Seismic experts say it will last other four, five months. I hope they’re right, so that after that period we can start working and doing something serious,” said one man. The challenges facing those who have lost homes and livelihoods are enormous, but they are all for tomorrow. Today is all about saying a dignified goodbye to those who were less lucky.