Date: 12 May 2008
On 12 May, a violent earthquake measuring 7.9 in magnitude hits the territory of China. The quake recorded by the national seismic network of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology and by the MedNet network is located in the Chinese region of Sichuan, approximately 90 kilometres north-west of the provincial capital of Chengdu. On the same day, until 11.50 Italian time, the earthquake is followed by aftershocks of maximum magnitude of 6.0
Aftershocks are also recorded over the days that follow, particularly on 17 May with two strong tremors of 6.0 and 6.1 in magnitude.
On 17 May 2008, aid from Italy, which had already expressed its willingness to intervene in the hours immediately following the quake, arrives after specific agreements are made with the Chinese government on the arrival of international aid, set out through the Italian Embassy in Beijing. Italian intervention also forms part of the Community mechanism for civil protection.
17 May 2008 – Dispatch of Italian aid
The first team of Italian technicians, composed of personnel from the Department of Civil Protection and the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry, took off from Fiumicino airport at 10 am this morning. The aircraft will arrive in Chengdu, the capital of the province of Sichuan, tomorrow at 5.30 Italian time (11.30 local time) to guarantee technical support in the deployment of aid destined for the victims of the earthquake of 12 May.
The same evening, at around 8 pm, a Cargo MD11 of Alitalia left Fiumicino airport on route for Chengdu carrying over 50 tons of P88 tents provided by the Ministry for the Interior, for a total of 240 tents that are particularly resistant to rain and adverse weather conditions and capable of providing shelter for 2,500 people. The aircraft will arrive at its destination tomorrow at 6.20 Italian time.
On 17 May 2008, aid from Italy, which had already expressed its willingness to intervene in the hours immediately following the quake, arrives after specific agreements with the Chinese government on the arrival of international aid, set out through the Italian Embassy in Beijing. Italian intervention also forms part of the Community mechanism for civil protection. In particular, engineer Luigi D’Angelo, one of the delegates of the emergency division of the Department of Civil Protection, is appointed to lead the European team sent to the areas hit by the quake. The task of the EU team, which has already left today from Brussels together with other European experts, will be to coordinate and facilitate the arrival of all aid from the different Community member states and destined for the populations in the areas hit by the earthquake.
“The extremely high number of victims”, stated Agostino Miozzo, in charge of the international relations division of the Department of Civil Protection and who coordinated the loading operations at Fiumicino, “is joined by the new and dramatic emergency represented by the millions of evacuees who will need all kinds of assistance over the coming months, from medical aid to accommodation and the distribution of drinking water. If further requests should arrive from China,” Miozzo confirmed, “the Italian Government is ready to respond”.