Italians try to reach families after quake
Italians in Bermuda were yesterday reaching out to their families in the wake of a devastating earthquake, which killed more than 120 people.
Nicola Russo of La Trattaria Restaurant said: “By the grace of God no one has lost any family members and some of our Bermudian friends living in the area are OK, only some small damage to their houses.
“My family contacted me early this morning to assure me that everything was OK and that they had spent the night in the car since they were too afraid to go back in the house. They do not live in the area directly affected by the quake, but they felt it.
“Those 30 seconds were a strong reminder of the strong one that hit their area a few years ago causing major destruction and leaving almost 400 dead,” she added, referring to a 2009 tremor in L'Aquila, about 70 miles from Rome.
The magnitude 6.2 quake struck early Wednesday — Tuesday night local time — around 65 miles north-east of Rome, not far from Perugia.
According to early reports many of the dead were in historic town of Accumoli, located close to the epicentre, or a short distance away in Amatrice, where three-quarters of homes were destroyed.
As of yesterday afternoon some people were still believed to be buried under the rubble and the death toll was expected to rise. Gioacchino DiMeglio, Bermuda's honorary Italian consul, said he had been contacted by many in the local Italian community asking what they could do to help.
“The problem everybody is experiencing at the moment is trying to contact family and friends in the area,” he said.
“The reality is the number of fatalities is going to be higher than it usually would because this time of year there are a lot of tourists who visit the area. The city that has been hit was more than 1,000 years old.
“A lot of the buildings crumbled down because they were built so long ago and it struck during the night while people were sleeping.”
He said that the Bermuda Red Cross was already beginning fundraising efforts to help those affected and that donation boxes are being placed in all of the MEF restaurants, of which Mr DiMeglio is a director.
“We would like to thank everybody for the support that we are getting,” he said. “We have already had a lot of e-mails asking how people can help.
“Italy is not a country where they need donations of clothes or anything like that, but any monetary help will support those who were affected.”
Meanwhile, Ann Spencer-Arscott, executive director of the Bermuda Red Cross, said that while the Italian Government and Italian Red Cross had not yet formally requested international assistance, they were able to accept donations on behalf of the victims of the earthquake.
“All funds raised will be forwarded to Italian Red Cross,” she said. “Bermuda has a large Italian population, so it is only fitting that we do something to support their country.”
In addition to the donation boxes at MEF Restaurants, Ms Spencer-Ascott said that Donald Richardson would be at Lindo's in Warwick starting later this week collecting funds. The Bermuda Red Cross is also accepting donations through online transfer to Butterfield Bank a/c 20 006 060 663859 200 in the name of Bermuda Red Cross, Disaster Appeal 2. Donations can also be made by phone at 236-8253 or at their offices on Berry Hill Road.