Italy probes to see if criminal negligence raised quake toll
AMATRICE, Italy (AP) — Bulldozers with huge claws and other heavy equipment rolled through Italy’s quake-devastated town of Amatrice on Sunday, pulling down dangerously overhanging ledges and clearing rubble as investigators tried to figure out if negligence in enforcing building codes added to the quake’s high death toll.
Investigations 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 700,000 euros ($785,000).
Questions also surround a bell tower in Accumoli that collapsed, killing a family of four sleeping in a neighboring house, including a baby of 8 months and a 7-year-old boy. That bell tower also had been recently restored with special funds allocated after Italy’s last major earthquake in L’Aquila in 2009.
The quake early Wednesday killed 291 people and injured hundreds as it flattened three medieval towns in central Italy. Giuseppe Saieva, the prosecutor in the regional capital of Rieti, said the high human death toll “cannot only be considered the work of fate.”
He said for now, police investigators remained focused on recovery efforts but once that emergency phase has passed, they will concentrate on the investigations.
Italy’s state museums, meanwhile, embarked on a fundraising campaign, donating their proceeds Sunday to relief and reconstruction efforts in the earthquake zone. – READ MORE