This will be a week that people will remember for many years to come, particularly those that have lived in the historic city of L’Aquila and the surrounding area of the Abruzzi mountains, in the centre of Italy.
We have had Paul’s brother and sister-in-law staying here with us this week at “Tre Cancelle”. The first we knew of the disaster was when we received a mobile phone call from Mike’s son in the UK on Monday morning, as he was ringing to check if we were all OK. Immediately we switched on the TV and were horrified to see the news story that was unravelling – a devastating earthquake in L’Aquila measuring 6.3 magnitude. It seems that there had been another significant tremor around midnight, and another prior to this on 30th March.
We actually had not felt a thing, as we were probably fast asleep and there was no apparent damage here. (Later we learned that some people in Itri and Fondi had definitely felt the tremor, as had Rome and Naples.)
We were naturally concerned for our family in Atina and San Donato, which border the Abruzzi mountains, so we immediately telephoned to check up on them. Mara was very upset, they had experienced a very harrowing, sleepless night, with violent tremors. However, thank goodness there had been no serious damage in Atina or the Val di Comino area.
However cousin Elena’s daughter, Antonella, is a student in the university town of L’Aquila studying Biotechnology. We learned that, despite many students having already left for the Easter break, Antonella had been staying in L’Aquila that dreadful night, and that she had had to crawl out of the student’s lodgings in her pyjamas, in shock but thankfully physically unhurt. Our cousins were distressed as they were unable to drive to L’Aquila to fetch her as the roads had been blocked off by the Police and Civil Protection authorities, and there were reports that some major routes in the area had been damaged. Eventually one of Antonella’s friends drove her home to be tearfully reunited with her family in San Donato.
We arranged to go and visit the cousins on Wednesday to give them some moral support.