ITALIAN EARTHQUAKE: The Building - Parents Ask Why Their Children Were Moved from the Old Nursery - Which Still Stands ; THE BUILDING

By Reporter, Terry KirChief | The Independent (London, England), November 2, 2002 | Go to article overview
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ITALIAN EARTHQUAKE: The Building - Parents Ask Why Their Children Were Moved from the Old Nursery - Which Still Stands ; THE BUILDING


Reporter, Terry KirChief, The Independent (London, England)


ITALY'S GRIEF over the dead children of San Giuliano di Puglia is mixed with concern at the way in which their school crumpled so easily in the earthquake, trapping those inside.

Local officials in the Molise region said an inquiry was likely to be launched into the construction of the Francesco Iovine school, built in the early 1950s before planning and building regulations were tightened. There were also suggestions that the addition of a second floor last year had put too much stress on the school's foundations.

Survivors said the foundations had shaken violently and the walls fallen inwards within seconds of the quake, sending the roof crashing down.

The school had been extended because many of the younger children had moved to the building a year ago when their 150-year-old nursery was deemed unsafe. But that building was largely unharmed by the quake, whereas the newer school has been flattened.

One rescuer, Mimmo Nigro, said: "The builders of the school should have paid more attention to structural issues. The concrete roof was too heavy for the walls, and without a doubt there was too little iron." One distraught woman, who would not give her name, said: "If the children had still been in the old building, none of this would have happened."

The town was the hardest hit in the earthquake zone, with many buildings, including older ones, badly damaged.

Southern Italy is prone to serious earthquakes. Europe's worst recorded earthquake shook Messina in 1908, when up to 200,000 people lost their lives. There were also huge earthquakes centred on Naples in 1980 and in Umbria in 1997.

Many buildings, and several town centres in the Molise region, including those of Isernia and Campobasso, were rebuilt after previous quakes.

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