As Italy Begins Cleanup, Questions of Blame Arise
Amid high number of collapses, investigation opened into whether safety standards were enforced
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 28, 2016 8:02 AM CDT
Firefighters recover paintings from a collapsed house in Amatrice, central Italy, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016 where a 6.1 earthquake struck just after 3:30 a.m., Wednesday. As Italians observed a day of national...   (Antonio Calanni)
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(Newser) – Italian authorities have opened investigations into the massive destruction wrought by the latest earthquake, reports the AP, seeking to determine if anyone bears criminal guilt for failing to ensure building safety standards in the seismically risky area. The investigation will focus on a number of structures, including an elementary school in Amatrice that crumbled when the quake hit Wednesday. The school was renovated in 2012 to resist earthquakes at a cost of $785,000. Questions also surround a bell tower in Accumoli that collapsed, killing a family of four, including a baby of 8 months and a 7-year-old boy. That bell tower had been recently restored with special funds allocated after Italy's last major earthquake in 2009. Giuseppe Saieva, the prosecutor in Rieti, capital of the province that includes Amatrice and Accumoli, says the high human death toll "cannot only be considered the work of fate." In other developments out of the ravaged country:

  • Italian authorities are revising the death toll down by one, to 290 people killed.
  • Pope Francis says he plans to visit an area in Italy struck by a deadly earthquake to bring the people there the "comfort of faith." Francis told that crowd at his Sunday address at St. Peter's Square: "Again I tell those dear populations that the church shares their suffering." He did not specify a date.
  • Italy's state museums are donating their proceeds Sunday to relief and reconstruction efforts in the area devastated by an earthquake. Culture Minster Dario Franceschini appealed to Italians to "go to museum in a sign of solidarity with people affected by the earthquake." The appeal on Twitter is #museums4italy.
  • Overnight into Sunday morning was relatively calm, the first since the quake struck without strong aftershocks. In all, the region has seen 1,820 aftershocks.