A roar in the night, the whole house begins to shake. You wake up in a panic because it is a déjà-vu of an experience that happened years ago, but which is alive in your mind more than ever. In Arquata del Tronto, among the victims there is also the little Marisol Piermartini, a girl of only 18 months. The baby-girl was sleeping in her bed, at home together with her dad Massimiliano and her mom Martina. The shock at 3:36 a.m. destroyed her home and she got buried under the rabble. Marisol’s mother, now at a hospital in Ancona, moved to Ascoli Piceno a few years ago. She had lived in L’Aquila before that, where she had miraculously survived the 2009 earthquake that devastated the capital of Abruzzo region.
While you hope you are going to survive those endless seconds, you hear the noise of the buildings crumbling under the violence of the earthquake. And the horror thousands of people who live in central Italy experienced during the night of August 24, when at 3:36 a.m. a magnitude 6 earthquake struck the area between Lazio, Marche, and Umbria. Entire villages crumbled, houses were gutted, and cars got buried under the debris. These are the images we see in the news around the world, which show a tragedy that happened in a few minutes. Next to the piles of rubble, which had been houses once, entire families hope that the next rescued person will be one of their loved ones.
The most serious damage is concentrated in Accumoli and Amatrice, completely destroyed villages. One of the symbolic images of this catastrophe is the amateur picture of the Amatrice bell tower, which did not crush, but full of cracks and subsidence due to the earthquake. Not to mention the clock that stopped at 3:38 a.m., two minutes after the the first shock. After a moment of pain and despair because of having lost everything you owned, follows anger.
Like Antonio’s anger, for instance. He an inhabitant of Accumoli, interviewed by ANSA, who described that after the 1986 earthquake, the Region funded reconstruction works, giving permission to build reinforced concrete roofs. But the houses, as Antonio pointed out, have stone walls, unfit to resist under such a weight. Thus, the controversy on the validity of past seismic safety laws, indicated as one of the causes of the damages produced by the earthquake.
The situation is not much different in the province of Ascoli Piceno. Pescara del Tronto has been razed to the ground by the earthquake and, along with Arquata del Tronto, it is one of the most damaged towns in the Marche region. Ten victims have been pulled out from the rubble and there are children among them. Whereas two brothers aged 4 and 7 have being pulled out of the debris alive: they have been saved by their grandmother, who hid with them under the bed.
Meanwhile, firefighters and civil defense men keep digging tirelessly to rescue as many lives as possible. A real race against time, but we still do not know when the death toll will stop. The intensity of the earthquake was similar to the one that hit L’Aquila in 2009, but this time it struck a vast area with a number of scattered towns and villages. In these small towns, houses are often not made earthquake resistant.
Elderly people who look with dull eyes at what is left of their houses, probably wondering: “What now?” Families united in a hug to comfort each other, the huge mounds of rubble. But the element that will probably remain firmly ingrained in everyone’s mind is the voice of Amatrice mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, who was desperately asking for help: “The town does not exist anymore. I do not know what to do”.