Tommaso Della Longa is a colleague of mine working for the Italian Red Cross and is on the spot in the disaster zone of Abruzzo right now. These are his impressions after 24hrs.
My first impression – it is a very big tragedy. Very sad. Being a 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. No words.
My second impression: during last night L’Aquila was like a city of ghosts. Nobody here, except those who were still working in the ruins - rescue operators, volunteers, police.
My third impression: I cannot but admire the spirit and dignity of the local people. They do not cry, they do not complain, but everyone is trying to help, to reach relatives, to reach friends, to help, to support.
There is so much dignity in what they are doing and how they are taking this horrible tragedy. The people are wonderful. I think it is very important in this situation.
We have 350 volunteers here working with the Italian Red Cross. There are many more people who would want to come and help, but we are trying to organize them in such a way that we could ensure they work in shifts. Our help will be needed here for a long time. Hard to predict now, but we will need volunteers for a long time, we must be able to replace them, rather than have them all here for the first days only.
These 350 are coping with the needs so far, 150 are ready to join at any moment. We’ll need them here, in two weeks, in three weeks and longer.
Hard to predict now, we still do not know the entire losses and damage. Please read more updates from the L'Aquila earthquake disaster on our website.