The earthquake in the Abruzzo region caused the collapse of thousands of buildings and homes. But some held up – despite their age. The undamaged Roman theatre Amiternum – an impressive sight when you see the wreckage of modern buildings, supposedly constructed according to anti-seismic regulations dating from 1974 and then strengthened in 1996.
One distressed resident told how her newly-built house collapsed. “I lived in a seismic built house,” she said. It’s destroyed, there is a frame, but nothing else. That’s all.” In L’Aquila, the most striking scene is that of the San Salvatore Hospital, a project which started in 1960 and opened in 2003. The building had to be evacuated inmediately after the earthquake which caused serious damage. Why? The suspected use of poor-quality cement and the wrong kind of sand has led the authorities to investigate. But for some residents of the city there is no doubt. One homeless woman said: “Building contactors used the money for the hospital for building their own villas.” Corruption: The president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano did not say that word. But during his visit to L’Aquila he challenged non-compliance with anti-seismic rules, and denounced the “irresponsibility” shared by manufacturers, inspectors, sellers and buyers of buildings. “We must examine our consciences without colour or political bias, it is not to see who is right or wrong, who has responsibilities or did not. I heard a representative of the opposition, who normally does not have this type of place to say ‘nobody is not without fault’. I think he was right.” Building legislation in the seismic zone was tightened in 2005, after the earthquake that killed 30, including 27 children in San Giuliano in 2002. But last autumn the government postponed the imposition of stricter laws until June 2010.