Rome

Italy needs to shore up defense against natural disasters

Head of civil protection says country risks 'falling apart'

Italy needs to shore up defense against natural disasters

Rome, November 13 - Investments are required in a "serious program" aimed at shoring up defenses in areas at risk of flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters, in order to prevent "this country from falling apart more than it already is," the head of Italy's national civil protection agency said Tuesday. Such a program would also help prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths every time an extreme natural phenomenon strikes, Franco Gabrielli said. Italians also have to start taking more responsibility in the way they attempt to counter damage caused by natural disasters, including respecting building codes and not constructing in geographically risky areas, Gabrielli said. Referring to extreme weather incidents, such as recent rains which dumped up to 40 centimeters of water in some areas of Tuscany in just over 48 hours, Gabrielli said that these rains "impacted an area whose fragility is very well-known and where people built where they shouldn't have built". "The real challenge," Gabrielli said, is to carry out significant - although not necessarily massive - investments in shoring up risky areas. Separately, Gabrielli also made a call for more private coverage of weather-related damages, saying that State can't be expected to foot the bill for all types of natural disaster-induced damage and that people need to get their own private insurance coverage. The only solution against damage caused by flooding, earthquakes and natural catastrophes is for citizens to be forced to purchase insurance, Gabrielli said. "It's time to wake up to the fact that the State, considering its resources, is no longer able to offer, in an equal manner, adequate answers from a rebuilding point of view". Gabrielli also criticized his countrymen's "not in my backyard" mindset when it comes to issues like garbage disposal, pointing out how Italians don't recycle. Italy sends garbage across borders, where it is burned and generates electricity which is subsequently sold. By doing this, Gabrielli said, Italy is missing an opportunity and shipping wealth out of the country.

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