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American Red Cross Supports Italy's Earthquake Response
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Abi Weaver, International Communications
April 7, 2009

In response to the powerful earthquake and aftershocks that rocked L'Aquila, Italy this week, the American Red Cross has committed $50,000 to support the humanitarian relief activities currently being carried out by the Italian Red Cross.

italy quake
Aerial view of collapsed buildings around L'Aquila, Italyon April 6, 2019. A powerful earthquake struck central Italy early on Monday, killing more than 200 people, making up more than 17,000 homeless and flattening entire medieval towns while residents slept. REUTERS/Livio Anticoli/Pool

As recovery and response efforts intensify following yesterday’s deadly tremor, the Italian Red Cross confirms more than 17,000 people have instantly become homeless.

Addressing the urgent needs of those who are now homeless, providing emergency health care and supporting the life-saving search and rescue operations remain among the pressing priorities of the Italian Red Cross.

Government reports now suggest that the 6.3-magnitude quake caused the deaths of 207 people and left more than 1,500 injured and in need of medical care.

“It is a very big tragedy; very sad,” said Tommaso Della Longa of the Italian Red Cross. “Being a former war journalist I am acquainted with death and tragedy, but what I see here is hard to believe. (There is) no war, but the city looks as if it has been ruined by heavy bombing. I have seen it in Gaza, in Kuwait (and) in Sarajevo. Now I see the same in my country. No words.”

A rescue dog inspects the rubble of a crushed house after an earthquake in L'Aquila, Italy on April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

More than 350 Italian Red Cross volunteers in the region have been working around the clock since the tremors began. Within an hour, volunteers as well as search and rescue dogs were on scene, helping to find and pull people from the rubble.

Ambulances, staffed by approximately half of the volunteers, are helping to evacuate the injured from L’Aquila to the hospitals in nearby Tagliacozzo, Pescina and Avezzano. Overnight, the Italian Red Cross also evacuated an orphanage in San Gregorio and is caring for the 12 children who resided there.

Soon after the quake, volunteers established a field hospital to relieve the burden on local health facilities which are under an enormous strain due to the sudden upsurge in demand. From that post, the Italian Red Cross rendered aid for more than 300 wounded patients yesterday.

Della Longa added, this morning, the Italian Red Cross set up two additional tent camps and distributed 10,000 blankets in the neighboring villages of Sangrigorio and Paganica to shelter the homeless.  An additional 5,000 blankets are expected to arrive today and be distributed before the evening chill.Mobile kitchens, with the capacity to provide 10,000 meals each day, continue to feed earthquake survivors and emergency responders. Additionally, five psychological support teams from the Italian Red Cross are helping people cope with and recover from their losses.

“I cannot but admire the spirit and dignity of the local people” said Della Longa. “They do not cry, they do not complain, but everyone is trying to help … reach relatives (and) friends. There is so much dignity in what they are doing and how they are coping with this horrible tragedy.”

A woman looks out the window of a tent as she rests at a make-shift camp in L'Aquila, Italy on April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The American Red Cross has received many generous offers from the U.S. citizens, including those already in the region on vacation and others who wish to travel and assist in the relief efforts. While we are grateful for the support of compassionate individuals who offer to help people in their time of need at home and around the world, the Italian Red Cross has not asked for international assistance in the form of volunteers.

Since 1968 the International Federation and member National Societies have supported the Italian Red Cross three times after earthquakes in 1968, 1976 and in 1980. In 1980 some 3,000 people lost their lives after a deadly quake hit the region of Naples. In 1992 a quake in Umbria claimed 13 lives and countless cultural treasures. The most recent deadly quake was in 2002 when 30 people died, including 27 pupils and their teacher, in the southern Italian town of San Giuliano di Puglia.


You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243 , Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.

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