The tragedy of San Giuliano di Puglia

Tragedia di San Giuliano di Puglia del 31 ottobre 2002

On October 31, 2002, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Molise and parts of Puglia. The worst-hit municipality was San Giuliano di Puglia, in the province of Campobasso, where the tremor caused the "Francesco Jovine" school to collapse. Trapped under the buildings' debris were 57 children, eight teachers, and two janitors.

The bustle of vehicles and rescuers was nonstop. In the beginning, for thirty grueling hours, they dug with their bare hands through the debris without the help of bulldozers. By dawn on Friday, November 1, they were able to pull Angelo out of the rubble, the last of the survivors to be rescued, but the death toll was dramatic: 27 children and a teacher had been killed. The entire first-grade class of children born in 1996 in San Giuliano was dead.

On November 3, 2002, President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi attended the funerals of the victims. At the ceremony, the mother of one of the children who died in the collapse called upon Italian schools to be safer.

Following the tragic event at San Giuliano, which resulted in the loss of 30 lives and around 100 injuries and left almost 14,000 people homeless, the State took action to implement specific regulations for construction and seismic classification across the entire country. This was seen as a key tool for effective planning and better control of the territory.

Photo: Damage to the town of San Giuliano di Puglia following the October 31, 2002 earthquake