xi's moments
Home | Europe

Illegally built homes blamed as landslide death toll rises in Italy

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-11-29 09:55

Rescuers try to penetrate debris on Monday in search of landslide survivors on the Italian island of Ischia. GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE/REUTERS

As rescue teams continue to scour mud and rubble on the Italian holiday island of Ischia after a deadly landslide there on the weekend, some people have tied the tragedy to illegal construction.

The debate prompted Vincenzo De Luca, governor of the Campania region of southern Italy, to tell state broadcaster RAI: "People must understand that they can't live in some areas and buildings in risky areas must be torn down."

The Reuters news agency said Ischia island, and the small town of Casamicciola Terme that was hit by Saturday's landslide, is hilly and densely populated, and that sub-standard, illegally built homes on hillsides put people below them at risk.

Reuters said the volcanic island, which is prone to flash flooding and earthquakes, has been the scene of arguments over what should be done with illegally built homes. Politicians and officials have in the past reportedly granted many such homes pardons, which ensured they avoided the wrecking ball.

As of Monday morning, the death toll from the landslide stood at eight, while four people were missing. A newborn baby and two children were among those known to have died in the landslide. Some 230 people were unable to return to their homes because of the danger of further slides, and residents who had not been evacuated were told to stay indoors, so they would not get in the way of the rescue effort.

Claudio Palomba, the prefect of the mainland city of Naples, which is about 30 kilometers from the island, told reporters dozens of emergency workers rushed to the scene immediately after the slide, including divers who searched the sea for survivors.

The devastating slide of mud and debris began on the side of the island's highest mountain, after prolonged heavy rain loosened rock and soil.

The BBC said experts have warned excessively rainy weather attributed to climate change will become increasingly common in southern Italy, and that landslides will also proliferate.

Nello Musumeci, Italy's minister for civil protection, told Il Messaggero newspaper that the nation now needs a "national plan of adaptation to climate change", to ensure its buildings are properly constructed, and able to withstand the challenges posed by the changing climate.

"Securing our territory is the biggest public work we have to complete in the next few years," he said. "If we don't, we'll mourn yet more people."

Italy's new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has declared a state of emergency on the island and set aside 2 million euros ($2.08 million) in aid money. The government has also said tax payments will likely be suspended for islanders until the end of the year, in a bid to help the community recover financially.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349