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serra, Michele

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La Repubblica - Italy | 23/08/2007

Sicily is devastated by fires

Michele Serra considers the blaze that hit Sicily on Wednesday, August 22nd, causing three deaths and enormous damage. "Everything has already been said on the subject of fires on southern Italy: speculative interests linked to the real-estate industry, laws never applied, livestock breeding opposed to reforestation … But none of this is enough to explain why the catastrophe is repeated so often and so cruelly. ... Burnt earth. Carbonised human beings, forests decimated and economic activity destroyed, tourism ruined, fields rendered unproductive... We are faced here with the self-destructive mentality of a community that is very rich in resources and assets, but exposed to crime... . We cannot understand [Sicily], this ever so marvellous and ever so horrible part of our country ... . It is not the State that can extinguish the fires, but the local inhabitants. ... Pyromaniacs have families and friends among the people who yesterday fled in terror."

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