x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Italy asks Emirates to adopt a building for quake restoration

The Italian government is hoping that the UAE will adopt a historic building for reconstruction in Abruzzo, a region devastated by a deadly earthquake.

The earthquake in April devastated the town of Onna, near L'Aquila, in central Italy.
The earthquake in April devastated the town of Onna, near L'Aquila, in central Italy.

The Italian government is hoping that the UAE will adopt a historic building for reconstruction in Abruzzo, a region devastated by a deadly earthquake last month. Paolo Dionisi, the Italian ambassador to the UAE, said that now the immediate emergency response has been completed, the authorities needed help in the mammoth task of reconstruction. Nearly 300 people died and more than 50 per cent of the region's buildings were destroyed in the earthquake on April 6, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

"We are calling upon the support and help of our friendly countries to adopt a monument for restoration," Mr Dionisi said. "At the very beginning, after the earthquake, the UAE was among the first to offer to send teams for the emergency. "The government was very touched by this gesture, but we could handle the situation in terms of emergency action, but now there's the reconstruction and that's when we probably need effective and practical help."

Officials, with the help of Unesco experts, are compiling a list of the damaged monuments. The epicentre was near the medieval walled city of L'Aquila, 95km north-east of Rome. The 13th-century red-and-white stone basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, considered the jewel of the region, was badly damaged. A swathe of gothic, baroque, romanesque and renaissance buildings were among the casualties.

"We are living in a very small world," the ambassador said. "Cultural and historical monuments are not only ours, they are a heritage for the whole world, for everybody." Mr Dionisi said he had raised the idea of adopting a building with the UAE authorities, who had shown "much interest". The medieval tower in Santo Stefano di Sessanio has collapsed. The neoclassical dome of the 18th-century Santa Maria del Suffragio was almost pulled down, and rescue workers have been trying to save works of art from the rubble. "The experts will decide which buildings will be restored," Mr Dionisi said.

"The ones that have been completely destroyed - I don't know what the decision will be, there's always been huge debate on this. "But of course every single monument that can be restored will be." lmorris@thenational.ae