The state prosecutor in Messina has opened an official inquiry into “disaster due to imprudence” following the mudslides in Sicily which killed 21 and has left between 30 and 40 people missing.
It is the first step towards finding out who is responsible for the tragedy which, though triggered by natural causes, everyone seems convinced was prepared by years of human error. “We carry on building, accepting speculative building developments, as if any terrain we want to use is stable. In reality, the land is very, very fragile. In Italy 5581 communes, more than half the country, have problems of varying severity, ranging from flooding to landslides to risk from earthquakes. 270 of them are in Sicily,” says the General Director of the Italian branch of the WWF, Gaetano Benedetto. The government says putting all this right could cost Italy 25 billion euros. Berlusconi has said he will fly over the stricken area by helicopter today to see the extent of the damage, and to identify other at-risk sites.