The earthquake which hit the town of San Giuliano di Puglia on the morning of 31 October killed 26 small children and 3 teachers at the local primary school. Half the school collapsed and surrounding buildings and houses were damaged. In the most serious earthquake to hit Italy since the September 1997 eruption in Assisi, the shocks, measuring 8 degrees on the Mercalli scale, were felt as far away as Rome.
The Military Corps of the Order’s Italian Association moved quickly, sending a team of doctors, nurses, intensive care specialists and auxiliaries to the scene, and providing 3 ambulances, medical equipment and a range of medical supplies. Shocks continued to be felt in the area for a week, with a sudden drop in weather temperature complicating the living conditions of survivors who had been housed in hastily assembled tent villages.
At the request of the town’s mayor and the Civil Protection Agency, the Commanding Officer of the Corps, General Mario Prato, has organised a first aid station at Rodello, province of Campobasso, to care for 1000 evacuees. The station is providing a 24-hour emergency medical service with a rotation of doctors and nurses. The Corps has also set up a paediatric surgery, provided a paediatrician and a psychologist, and carried out a medical census of the camp residents, providing accurate statistics and medical information for those needing further treatment. They are continuing to carry out careful health checks of the camps.
Meanwhile, at Casalnuovo Monterotaro, which suffered serious damage to 80% of its houses, a group of 18 volunteers from the Italian Ambulance Corps of the Order of Malta (CISOM), from Puglia and Lombardy, have come to organise special healthcare assistance for those in need. They have set up a fixed first aid post, which is offering service on a 48-hour rotation in teams of 5. As well, another group from Padua has organised a camp kitchen in the area.