As mourners gather today at a funeral for at least 200 of the 292 victims of the Aug. 24 quake in central Italy, the initial search for survivors has been replaced by the grim final task of recovering bodies and identifying the dead. As has happened in the wake of natural disasters in the past, local newspapers have begun turning their attention to how public money has been mismanaged in ways that may have added to the scale of death and destruction. A top prosecutor even spoke about organized crime bidding for reconstruction projects.
Corruption has long plagued Italy, adding an extra layer of vulnerability to a country home to several earthquake fault lines. The graft stands in marked contrast to public servants who tirelessly dig through the rubble with their bare hands in the search for survivors.
In the south, we have gotten used to witnessing a different kind of dramatic scene as another geographic vulnerability is exposed: Italy's 7,600 kilometers of coastline. The ongoing waves of desperate would-be immigrants trying to reach Italian shores has peaked in recent days. Reuters reports that the country's coast guard rescued as many as 6,500 migrants in the southern Mediterranean on Monday alone.
In the land they call the bel paese (beautiful country), locals know a natural disaster can strike at any time. A man-made one too. The good people, at least, will always be there to help.
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