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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 14:08 GMT
Anger and blame in Italian press
S. Giuliano di Puglia in Southern Italy
A tragedy waiting to happen, say some

Newspapers in Italy reveal the anguish over what many people feel might have been an avoidable tragedy in the southern Italian school.

The school authorities, the local mayor, faulty construction and poor laws have all been cited in a torrent of blame following the death of nearly 30 schoolchildren and adults.

La Repubblica reflects the climate of blame and confusion. In one report, it says the priest in San Giuliano Di Puglia had suggested the school should stay closed on Thursday for fear of earthquakes, but his words went unheeded.

In the village, the sentence has already been passed

La Stampa

In another, it has Father Ulisse angrily denying reports that he and the town's mayor had disagreed over the opening of the school.

Father Ulisse condemned attacks on the mayor - who lost a daughter in the school collapse - as "shameful".

Sentenced

An editorial in La Stampa also focuses on mayor Antonio Borrelli, saying villagers are blaming him for not preventing the tragedy.

Carabinieri policeman rescues girl from rubble
One of the lucky survivors

"In the village, the sentence has already been passed, because compassion is not the daughter of sorrow."

A La Repubblica story headlined "Those floors were rotten" says one father whose son was missing was unable to contain his anger at the local authorities.

"It was inevitable that the school would collapse. The [reinforced concrete] floors were old, 20, 30 years old. They were made with clay and cement, and the supporting iron rods in them weren't properly made either. That's why the one-storey building folded like a book, in the blink of an eye," the father, Modesto Petacciato, says.


The first building which collapsed in an earthquake was the last which should have collapsed

Corriere della Sera

"The local authorities should have changed those floors. Do you know what they did? A year or two ago, they repainted the walls - in yellow! A joke - because the supporting structures were made of butter and remained butter. Even the most stupid engineer should have realized that sooner or later, this would become a tomb."

Guilt

In an editorial headlined "Fatality and guilt", Milan's Corriere della Sera, says the school should have been the safest place in town.

"The children who died in San Giuliano in Molise will not let us sleep for a long time. We all would like to understand how the first building which collapsed in an earthquake was the last which should have collapsed."

Such events happen too often Italy, Corriere argues, blaming them on "poor management and laws and bad practices which are everywhere".

"The feeling of insecurity widens when chance lifts the veil, as it does too often in Italy."


The story of so many white coffins

La Stampa

Another editorial in La Stampa is headlined "Those white coffins", which in Italy are traditionally reserved for children.

Remembering other earthquakes and natural disasters in southern Italy, the paper comments: "This thankless task has forced us to tell the story of so many white coffins, each time tidily ordered in the courtyards of churches throughout the south."

La Stampa also writes of the "disappointed eyes of the dust and soot-covered rescuers every time they have to hand a tiny body, not to the doctors and nurses, but to the voluntary workers of the improvised morgue".

Il Sole 24 Ore's headlines its story: "Halloween party turns into nightmare."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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01 Nov 02 | Europe
01 Nov 02 | Europe
31 Oct 02 | Europe
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