Monday, January 23, 2017


Both Britain and the US have had a good, or a bad, week, depending on your point of view but there is no doubt that Italy had a tragic one:

As further eathquake tremors again brought fear to Central Italy, on Wednesday an avalanche weighing 120,000 metric tonnes and travelling at 100 km per hour struck the Rigopiano Hotel in Abruzzo. So far six people have been declared dead, 23 are missing and 11 have been pulled out alive.  Among the missing is a young Senegalese, Faye Dame, who had refugee status in Italy and was proud to be the factotem of the hotel. I keep thinking of this young man who had, like so many others, come to Europe in search of a better life. He must have been so happy to have been granted permission to stay and to work and to be able to live in a little apartment near the hotel.

Geologists say the tragedy was caused primarily by three strong earthquake tremors combined with heavy winds blowing in from Siberia, much heavier snow than usual and ground that was already wet.

We were all cheered when the Rigopiano's's Abruzzese shepherd dogs, Lupo and Nuvola, were found alive and well in a village 11 km away, where they are being cared for. Lupo and Nuvola, who are symbols of the hotel, always greeted guests and enjoyed their attention. Fortune was also smiling last week upon this young man, a member of the singing group Il Volo.

On the same day, another earthquake hit Amatrice, the town that suffered so badly in the quake of 24th August. "What, in God's name, have we done to deserve this?" asked the Mayor on Italian radio. The people of Amatrice could certainly have done without Charlie Hebdo's cartoon [not for the first time] but the Mayor's response was, "We will reply to this macabre provocation with life."

Better news from Amatrice was that the first 25 wooden houses have been allocated, by ballot, to some of those made homeless by the 24th August quake.

Tonight my thoughts are with all affected by the avalanche and tremors, all who grieve and all who wait for news of their loved ones. I'm sure that yours are with them too.

Update at 16.34 on 23.1.17:

Lupo and Nuvola's three puppies have been found alive and well in the wreckage of the hotel.

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