In the early hours of 6 April, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale struck the city of L'Aquila in central Italy, 75 miles northeast of Rome.
This was followed by a series of aftershocks, which were felt as far away as Rome. The aftershocks continued through the night and added to the tension and fears of those working in the disaster zone.
The earthquake left 290 people dead and 1,000 injured. It also left around 28,000 people homeless, in a city with a population of 70,000. The Red Cross estimates it will be months or even years before people are able to live in their homes again.
On 7 April, the British Red Cross launched an appeal to support the Italian Red Cross’ emergency relief and recovery operations. Thanks to the generosity of the public, £171,000 was raised.
How we helped
Italian Red Cross rescue teams were on the scene of the disaster within an hour after the earthquake struck and the British Red Cross immediately provided £15,000 from its Disaster Fund to support the emergency response.
The Italian Red Cross provided health, first aid, logistics and humanitarian relief. It also established a field hospital to relieve the burden on local health facilities, which were under enormous strain.
Medical teams helped hundreds of wounded patients and 36 Red Cross ambulances were on rotation evacuating injured people from L'Aquila to the hospitals in Tagliacozzo, Pescina and Avezzano. An orphanage in San Gregorio was also evacuated and the Red Cross ensured care was provided for all the children. Additionally, psychosocial support teams from the Italian Red Cross helped families affected by the disaster.
Shelter, food and water
The Red Cross provided water, and thousands of hot meals and warm blankets in the tent camps set up for people made homeless by the earthquake. Search and rescue operations continued at night with seven dog units, supporting all the rescue and relief efforts of the Italian authorities’ civil protection units.
“It is a very big tragedy,” said Tommaso Della Longa, head of communication for the Italian Red Cross. “Being a former war journalist I am acquainted with death and tragedy, but what I see here is hard to believe: no war, but the city looks as if it has been ruined by heavy bombing. I have seen it in Gaza, in Kuwait, in Sarajevo. Now I see the same in my country.
“The most important thing now is to provide shelter, food and water to people who have lost everything.”
Money raised by the British Red Cross Italy Earthquake Appeal was used in the Italian Red Cross’ relief and recovery activities.
Updated 20 May 2009