People in Sicily have turned their wrath on the government over landslides that claimed at least 22 lives. That figure could double as some 40 others are still missing.
Torrential rain triggered mudlides that swept away roads and houses in the town of Messina. But officials say shoddy building practices contributed to the tragedy and have opened a manslaughter inquiry. One elderly man said: “We’ve been abandoned, we’ve had no help.” A woman survivor said: “We have a mortgage to pay. Who’s going to give us the money? We’re ruined. We’re staying here hoping nothing else bad happens.” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has visited the disaster zone and promised immediate tax relief and new houses for the victims. But that has done little to quell the anger of local people. They want to know why construction was allowed on apparently unstable land. Some accuse the government of being more concerned with a project to build a bridge between Sicily and the mainland than the welfare the island’s residents.