Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has confirmed a unidentified Canadian is among the 250 dead following yesterday’s earthquake in central Italy. In a statement, Dion saying he is “extremely saddened to see the tragic loss of life… which now includes the death of a Canadian citizen.” Italian officials say 365 people have been injured.
Rescue crews are racing against time as they search for survivors from yesterday’s pre-dawn 6.2 magnitude quake. Crews are using heavy equipment, shovels and their bare hands, as they pull chunks of cement, stone and metal from mounds of rubble that were once homes.
Firefighters have been providing temporary escorts so survivors can get belongings left behind. It looks like residents will be homeless for some time. Many homes have been declared inhabitable by rescue crews. Aftershocks, including one measuring 4.3 magnitude are slowing rescue efforts as they create panic among survivors.
Calgary Italian Cultural Centre past-president Linda Blasetti says they are working on a fundraising plan which will likely involve the Red Cross. Blasetti says it’s hard to look at the pictures coming out. “When you look at the imagery, and you think about bricks and mortar where multiple generations of families have lived in these homes for hundreds of years, you look at the churches and historical buildings now reduced to a pile of rubble and it breaks your heart.”
In 2009, following the Abruzzo earthquake that left more than 300 dead, the Italian-Canadian community across the country raised more than $2-million for a new health facility in the region.