Madonna has donated an estimated half a million dollars to the victims of Monday’s earthquake, which has so far claimed 228 lives in the Italian city of L’Aquila.
Madonna, whose grandparents lived in the hamlet of Pacentro in the city hit by the tremor which measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, responded to the city’s mayor who appealed personally to her for help after the devastation of the quake in the Abruzzo region of Italy.
“I am happy to lend a helping hand to the town that my ancestors are from,” she told People.com. “My heart goes out to the families that have lost loved ones or their homes.”
With 50,000 people estimated to be homeless and around 13,000 buildings destroyed, rescue efforts have been hampered by the aftershocks as families wait to hear the fate of their loved ones.
Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, said that the efforts would continue for two more days “until it is certain that there is no one else alive”. Tent camps provided by civil protection volunteers housed some of the 17,000 left homeless but many spent the night in the chill mountain air without blankets.
The Times have today reported that although the rescue efforts on behalf of the Italian government have been brilliant, this earthquake has raised issues about implementing sustainable, long term efforts to prevent a repeat of the disaster.
“This time the State was there for us,” said daily newspaper La Stampa. It added: “It is unpleasant to reflect on a catastrophe when there are still people to pull out of the rubble, but we have to do so if we are to avoid yet more pain and rage. It is not earthquakes which kill, but badly constructed buildings.”
Franco Barberi, a geologist, said in a television broadcast from a camp for evacuees at L’Aquila that “an earthquake like this in California would not have provoked a single death”.
As rescue efforts continue, the residents of L’Aquila are faced with the reality of the destruction the earthquake has caused, demonstrating the urgency of ensuring this never happens again.