News

Caritas Quick to Respond to Italian Earthquake

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Aug 2016

The Basilica of St Francis, Amatrice was not damaged in the earthquake

Local Caritas staff, partners and volunteers, part of the Caritas international network, are already responding with emergency assistance and support to those on the ground, following a powerful 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck north-east of Rome, 11 km from Norcia, Italy.

The earthquake was in the mountainous terrain of central Italy where many small towns were devastated by the shallow earthquake, causing severe damage to buildings and loss of life.

Reports from the media claimed at least 247 have been killed, hundreds people injured and more than 1,000 homes damaged or destroyed. It is estimated that over 1,000 people have also been displaced by the quake, as many houses built of unreinforced brick or concrete have collapsed.

Local Caritas networks launched an emergency response on the day of the quake, with volunteers and staff (including bishops) on the ground helping the affected population with essential aid including food and other basic necessities.

Pope Francis addressed pilgrims in St Peter's Square in Rome hours after the quake stating: "I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted," he said. "I want to assure all the people of Accumuli, Amatrice, the Diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and Le Marche, of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church".

Pope Francis dispensed with his planned address to lead those gathered for the Wednesday Audience in prayer for the victims

The Italians Bishops' Conference has allocated 1 million Euros ($Australian 1.47million) towards the response for initial urgent and basic needs.

Caritas Australia does not have any programs in Italy, but sends its messages of support and goodwill to those on the ground.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the earthquake," Melville Fernandez, Caritas Australia Head of Emergencies said. "Our colleagues are already responding to those in need and we thank them for their care. We continue to be in close contact with our partners in Italy and are monitoring the response and situation as the emergency unfolds."

The Caritas network is one of the largest humanitarian aid networks in the world. Our Emergency Response Fund enables Caritas Australia to work with local partners to respond quickly and appropriately to humanitarian emergencies around the world, whenever and wherever they occur.

Melville Fernandez, Caritas Australia Head of Emergencies

If you would like to help deliver emergency aid around the world, you can donate at http://www.caritas.org.au/learn/emergency-response/disaster-aid-relief-fund