Earthquake and bombs in Italy: An eyewitness report from Jasmina Tesanovic

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A weekend of fear and mourning in Italy.

Early this Sunday morning, an earthquake struck near Bologna: at least six killed (ceramic workers, and a hundred year old person), and big material damage in the region. The US Geological Survey heard the tremor: a magnitude-6.0 quake struck at 4:04 a.m. Sunday between Modena and Mantova, about 35 kilometers north-northwest of Bologna. Civil defence says that the quake was the strongest in the region since the 1300s. And the damaged building are valuable historical sites. In Italy such loss goes without saying.

We felt the earthquake in Torino, 260 kilometers from Modena at dawn. The apartment building shook and the late-night party people yelped with alarm in the streets. As I write this we hear the building crack and we tremble: I am checking on twitter. Yes, it' s an aftershock at 15.19.

Not unusual for Italy to deal with deadly earthquakes, but what comes afterward can be nearly as troublesome: state neglect and real estate speculation. Those who are not under earth may have the skies as a roof forever! The last big earthquake in Aquila in 2009 speaks about that.

On Saturday morning, a bomb exploded in front of a high school, killing a 16 year old girl and injuring several other students seriously. This school bears the name of an antimafia activist, but it seems this was a terror attack. As if this distinction mattered: what cruel frame of mind, what political activism wants to bomb teenage schoolgirls? What is this message supposed to convey?

Fear and anger among citizens: standings all over Italian towns in solidarity with bombing victims in the southern Italian town Brindisi, and loud opposition to the reign of terror of anonymous bombs against civilians. The "strategy of tension" was notorious during the "lead years" in the seventies and eighties.

Italy in these days is targeted as the next country after Greece to be tumbled out of the euro zone into severe recession and collapse. The new Monti government, struggling to undo Berlusconi's long unruly reign in mere months, is imposing grim economic measures. Monti was a banker, and now is a prime minister: the trade unions blame his approach as inspired by and for the financiers rather than the population. Even Italian lighthouses auctioned off to tackle public debt pile.

"They stand on imposing headlands with spectacular views of isolated bays and white sandy beaches, some of the most picturesque in the Mediterranean." (Telegraph, UK)

The rate of unemployment among young people is 40 percent.

Italian flags are at half staff for three days of mourning. The international press has been reporting on the school killing as well as the earthquake: the social networks are full of useful news and active support for concrete initiatives. This awareness doesn't stop the Italian earth from shaking, the euro from falling, or criminals from killing the innocent, but it's a vital sign in our modest domain of life.

Jasmina Tesanovic