ShelterBox team arrives in quake zone – journalists and bystanders advised to leave Amatrice, as ‘the town is crumbling’ with further tremors. Desperate search for survivors continues, as people sleep outdoors, in cars, in tents

ShelterBox is drawing on all its strengths in responding to the Italy quake. In-country affiliates and local Rotarians have helped the charity’s response team to ‘hit the ground running’ as they arrive in the quake zone today. But the damage is immense, and the ground still shakes

There is little time yet to count the human cost of the earthquake that has levelled the Italian mountain towns and villages of Rieti and Ascoli Piceno provinces. Italy’s National Service of Civil Protection says the possibility of finding people alive is falling as time goes by, but nonetheless 5,000 people are still involved in a massive rescue effort.

The BBC reports that journalists and bystanders have been advised to quit Amatrice as ‘the town in crumbling’, almost completely razed by the ongoing quakes and expected to have the greatest number of victims. Here a frantic race against the clock to find any survivors continues. Rescuers were heartened as some children have been found alive, but the overall toll is expected to exceed that of the quake in 2009 in Abruzzo when over 300 people died.

On the second night since the initial quake, there were reports of people spending the night in cars or outdoors, as well as in communal tents provided by the Red Cross and Italian agencies.

International relief agency ShelterBox now has a response team arriving in the quake zone, arrangements having been made in advance by ShelterBox Italy based in Milan, and by Rotary contacts. Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy is heading the team, with Cornwall-based response volunteer Ed Owen, and Italian national Clio Gressani from ShelterBox’s London office.

At ShelterBox’s HQ in Cornwall, Operations Coordinator Jon Berg says,

We have a team on its way to the affected area to coordinate with the responding agencies and carry out assessments to ascertain the level of need, the options available and most appropriate response from us.

‘Our Italian contacts and affiliate have been updating us with information since yesterday morning so that we are able to hit the ground running. Our work could potentially include supporting people close to their homes, depending on the safety of each situation, or in community camps planned by the local authorities.’

‘But their first task will be getting a better understanding of the situation and the need.’

With thousands of aid workers now helping across the region it is also possible that ShelterBox could offer temporary accommodation for humanitarian teams from colleague agencies.

Among ShelterBox’s range of aid are a variety of tents, kits with tools and tarpaulins for making temporary shelters, and helpful items such as solar lights to be used where power is down, offering safety and security to displaced families in hours of darkness.


Photo Credit: Stefano Rellandini – Reuters