Italy ill-prepared for natural disasters: experts
Rome (AFP) Nov 17, 2010
Italian geologists said Wednesday that Italy was ill-prepared for natural disasters in the wake of a killer earthquake last year and recent heavy floods across northern and central Italy.
"There is a serious lack of infrastructure in Italy for dealing with natural disasters," Francesco Russo, deputy head of the Naples Geologists Association, said at a joint press conference with two other senior geologists.
"The word 'prevention' comes up when the emergency strikes, but is then magically forgotten again," he said.
The experts said the government was ignoring the dangers, dishing out construction permits in areas at risk of seismic activity or flooding in exchange for votes.
"Italy is saturated with urban dwellings. The problem is largely political: land management is ignored in favour of a system of swopping favours for votes," said Paolo Spagna, head of the Veneto Geologists' Association.
Russo said: "We need to decide once and for all in Italy whether construction is based on geological facts or is driven by political or economic motives."
Ahead of the 30th anniversary this month of the 1980 Irpinia earthquake in southern Italy which killed nearly 3,000 people and left 300,000 homeless, Russo said little had been done to prepare for future earthquakes.
An earthquake in the medieval city of L'Aquila last year killed more than 300 people, with many blaming shoddy construction for the deaths and damage.
Italy is one of the countries in the Mediterranean most at risk for earthquakes, with seven quakes registering at or over 6.5 on the Richter scale in the 20th century, according to Italy's civil protection agency.
It has also seen heavy floods, such as the 1966 inundation of Florence which damaged or destroyed millions of artworks and rare books.
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