After staying awake until nearly 6am watching the Chelsea – Bayern Munchen championship game on TV here in Taiwan, admittedly I didn’t wake until afternoon on Sunday and what seemed like a potentially productive afternoon was immediately halted by the first Facebook status I read.
A 6.0 earthquake struck the Emilia Romagna region of Italy…where I just left Wednesday.
My prior housemates at the BlogVille apartment are all well thankfully, but obviously a bit shaken up. I immediately started reaching out to friends I made during my time there and so far, I have heard from everyone except three…the three who live closest to the epicenter. (See firsthand post from my prior housemate, @BushBirdie: Still Standing)
As I continue to read more news reports, I see the number of deaths have increased to six with an unknown number of people injured after buildings collapsed and some people are believed to be trapped inside. I’ve seen conflicting reports on damage to cities that I fell so deeply in love with…Modena, Ferrara, and Bologna being the main three discussed in various news reports. Continued reports and city walk throughs by BlogVille housemates indicate Bologna thankfully escaped any noticeable damage.
The Emilia Romagna region really became home for us bloggers during our stay and the warmth and graciousness shown by everyone we encountered just makes this disaster all that more personal for me, despite not physically being there right now.
I am used to 6.0 earthquakes on a regular basis here in Taiwan as we are located directly on the Pacific Ring of Fire, plus I grew up with some nasty California earthquakes as well, but I still don’t like them. I don’t care how many earthquakes I experience, they still scare the crud out of me.
The earthquake today struck about 22 miles northwest of Bologna, in between Ferrara and Modena and was quite shallow (just 10km deep). It is the worst quake to hit Italy since 2009 when the L’Aquila quake killed nearly 300 people. Perhaps the one saving grace is this quake happened at 4:00 a.m. local time so many residents were home asleep versus out in the streets at risk by all the falling debris. There have been a number of aftershocks and many people are still afraid to go inside.
The tremor caused “significant damage to the cultural heritage” of Emilia Romagna region, the government said.
While you may not personally have visited the Emilia Romagna region, please take a moment today and say a prayer, or send good wishes, to those in Italy who are directly affected by this tragedy. This is a very historic part of Italy and contains many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So far, BBC has confirmed damage at:
- San Felice sul Panao: 14th century castle severely damaged
- Finale Emilia: bell tower collapsed, crushing cars
- Sant’Agostino: ceramic factory destroyed, killing two people
- Tecopress di Dosso: worker died when factory roof collapsed
- Buonacompra: historic church destroyed
Update May 23nd: The region has had around 100 aftershocks according to reports. I have since confirmed all my friends are ok, but many of them were terrified and are still scared as quakes continue to occur. Some sustained minor damage but thankfully are all ok.
It’s now been said the quake is the worst cultural hit to Italy since the 1997 Assisi Quake. Reuters has confirmed that many historical relics and priceless art were destroyed in the series of quakes. San Felice’s three main churches are in ruins. In Finale Emilia, a section of the San Carlo Church has collapsed, containing a 17th century painting by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Il Guercino.
In addition to all the historical losses, one of the region’s biggest industries has taken a huge hit — Parmesan and Grana Padano cheeses come from this region, and producers are estimating a 250 million euro loss in cheese, about 10% of the entire Parmesan production.
The BlogVille project I am involved with is sponsored by the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board and is designed at raising awareness and promoting tourism to this beautiful part of Italy. Please help us spread the word and follow #BlogVille on Twitter and join me on FaceBook for more updates and announcements.