Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Italy on fire

This subject was brought up a couple weeks ago by Sognatrice, and now it's hit the news in America again today.

I'm not sure what to make of this...what do those living in Italy think? Whatever the cause, it's such a shame that beautiful land is being destroyed.

Organised crime suspected in Italy's fires

A new rash of fires broke out in southern Italy on Tuesday, with officials increasingly accusing organised crime of being behind many of the blazes that have claimed six lives this summer.

The sixth death was recorded Tuesday with the discovery of the body of an 80-year-old man near Foggia in the southeastern Apulia region, the national forestry service said.

Meanwhile authorities in the southern Campania region have opened an investigation after a fire services helicopter was shot at while it was hovering over the Volturno River north of Naples to fill its water reservoir.

In the incident Monday, the pilot was unaware that the helicopter was peppered with 18 rounds, but his colleagues noticed the bullet holes when the aircraft returned to the site of the blaze they were battling, a public safety spokesman told AFP.

A regional representative, Corrado Gabriele, described the incident as "an offensive of organised crime."

In another incident on Monday, vandals cut cables linking the Campania region's operational centre with rescue workers.

An agricultural official told the ANSA news agency that "criminal intentions" were suspected, calling for police to take urgent action against "pyromaniacs and criminal organisations prepared to do anything to generate a profit."

Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, speaking on Italy's Sky TG24 all-news channel on Tuesday, alleged "a veritable criminal assault against natural parks and many parts of Italy."

"The fire starters are not mentally ill or pyromaniacs," said Pecoraro Scanio, the leader of Italy's Greens party. He accused "gangs linked in many cases to criminal associations and in other cases to property speculators" of responsibility.

The deputy chairman of the parliamentary anti-mafia committee, Mario Tassone, for his part said organised crime was "giving logistical support to arsonists."

Several of the new blazes were in the far south Calabria region, while others were in Campania including a Naples suburb.

The environmental group WWF late last month estimated that some 9,000 hectares (22,500 acres) of protected area had burned, blaming arsonists for "most of the fires."

It said: "It is well known that fire almost always serves to get rid of trees and other natural obstacles to make way for new hotels, villas or pastures."


Anonymous said...

How very disturbing. l kind of heard something about this but niavely couldn't imagine why people would do that. Of course developments.

Kathy said...

I don't understand why they would do it either. However, organized crime is fascinating to me!

sognatrice said...

Fascinating to me as well, Kathy. I still can't figure out how this really helps "organized crime" but maybe that's just me.

I can only speak for Calabria (as opposed to Naples, Puglia, and Sicily), but most of the organized crime around here has to do with drugs and weapons. They really don't build hotels or anything, as one can plainly see from our undeveloped coastline ;)

Kathy said...

Yeah, I always pictured organized crime dealing more with drugs and weapons, not land development!

jessica said...

oh how terrible.