Italy earthquake – ShelterBox may have a role in recovery, but not for emergency shelter.

Saturday was a day of national mourning in Italy for the almost 300 people known to have died in last week’s overnight earthquake. Over 1,000 aftershocks since, some as powerful as 4.7, have made residents, emergency services and aid workers fearful that damaged structures may topple.

Road access to the near-demolished historical town of Amatrice is threatened by structural worries about its last remaining bridge. ‘Let’s hope it doesn’t collapse or the town will be cut off from both sides’ Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said. The hilltop town has been declared a red zone, with no access permitted except for emergency services. No-one has been pulled alive from the rubble since last Wednesday, so the search and rescue phase is winding down as hopes fade, though the Government has pledged to continue locating the deceased.

For ShelterBox’s team, based with Civil Protection, government and other aid agencies in nearby Rieti less than 30 miles from the epicentre, the focus is now on how to help residents cope in the aftermath, and the whole area to recover. Rieti also has a makeshift mortuary in an aircraft hangar, where relatives have been identifying loved ones.

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ShelterBox is principally a provider of emergency and transitional shelter and other emergency relief items. But the disaster area already has tented space for around 3,000 people provided by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, less than half of which is occupied.

In this predominantly agricultural and tourist area, with its high proportion of second homes for holidaying Italians, displaced people have opted to stay with friends and family, to sleep in cars near to their properties, or to take up the widespread offer of free accommodation in guest houses and private rentals. The quake zone is around ninety minutes’ drive from Rome, so there is no lack of in-country aid resources.

ShelterBox offered to supply tents to supplement hospital facilities, as it did last year after Nepal’s quakes, but around half the injured are from Rome and are being treated there, and others in Rieti and other towns in the Lazio region.

But ShelterBox has been exploring a potential role in rural recovery, talking to the Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori, This is a network of agricultural workers who may be able to help reach very remote settlements and individual homesteads that have less access to assistance. The area has a rural economy based on agri-tourism and the farming of very precious and protected crops and livestock. A subsection of the Confederazione, the Young Farmers of Lazio, have already helped provide machinery for earthquake rescue, cleared roads, and managed tourist accommodation as emergency shelter.

Where remote farm dwellings have been damaged it is hoped that highly portable ShelterBoxes might offer tented shelter, solar lighting, warmth for the approaching autumn, and water filtration where sources have been contaminated by the quake. Details will need to be hammered out, as Italian regulations require sanitation systems anywhere that tents are set up.

Collapsed house in Amatrice

ShelterBox’s Italy team leader Phil Duloy says, ‘The senior Civil Protection member we met agreed in principle to support our efforts, if we are able to offer them. This would be a valuable contribution to helping a delicate economy and a rural population recover from a damaging blow.’

‘This is one of Europe’s most significant agricultural areas, and it will be important for farmers and food producers to remain on their land to maintain their livelihoods so they recover economically and are able to continue contributing to Italy’s food stocks.’

ShelterBox’s Clio Gressani, an Italian national who works in the charity’s London office and is a member of the team currently in Rieti, told BBC Breakfast, ‘There is a need to help remote farmers because this area is quite particular with very small communities on mountains and hills. The farmers need to stay close to their farms and animals to protect them. Cows need to be milked, and the harvesting season is coming up. Most of their buildings have collapsed, so it would be important that they have a shelter to stay close to their rural activity.’ 

ShelterBox’s Italian affiliate organisation, based in Milan, will maintain dialogue with Civil Protection and other Italian organisations. Rotary colleagues in Italy have also been helpful providing transport and arranging accommodation for the ShelterBox team.

ShelterBox may have a special role helping farmers to stay on damaged farms and vineyards in Italy’s earthquake zone

ShelterBox team in Italy


The Italy earthquake zone now marred with broken buildings and damaged roads is, in happier times, one of the world’s richest agricultural areas. But this rural economy is now in shock, and farmers need to stay on their farms even where homes are damaged. ShelterBox is in talks offering help  

The Confederazione Italiana del Agricultura recognizes the hilly landscape shaken by massive quakes and tremors this week as one of the world’s showpieces for agriculture, food and wine.

Amatrice, its ancient buildings now mostly in ruins, is regarded as the seat of the Italian food agricultural industry, and is home to the ‘Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park’ where many unique species are protected.

While the focus has been on damage and casualties in towns and villages, there is widespread concern that farmers may have to leave their fields, vineyards and livestock unattended because they have nowhere to shelter since the quake.

International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has been in talks today with the Confederazione Italiana del Agricultura about a solution. Once the Confederazione has examined the need across hundreds of smallholdings and farms, the door is open for ShelterBox to return to help farmers recover and rebuild.

ShelterBoxes – easily portable and ideal for delivery to inaccessible locations – may provide the ideal temporary solution. Each has a hardy tent for properties left without shelter in the forthcoming autumn and winter, solar lighting where power is down, and water filtration where pipes and sources have been damaged and drinking water has been compromised.

ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinator Jon Berg says, ‘At the moment we have found an over-provision of tented shelter in the quake zone, and much aid stock may well be sent back. ShelterBox does not yet have any inbound aid, but this conversation today with the Confederazione raises the possibility that ShelterBoxes may meet a very specific longer term need, helping Italian farmers and the rural economy to recover.’

The network of agricultural workers is mostly in remote settlements and on individual homesteads which have less access to assistance than village and town dwellers. At the moment it is reported that much of the displaced population are staying with friends, family, or in their cars parked in front of their homes – not only because of personal attachment, but to guard against looting of their possessions.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy is shown the damaged region

Also characteristic of this area is holiday home ownership by people who work and live in Rome for most of the year. ‘Agri-tourism’ properties are common here. The area is noted for its olive groves, grapes, even tobacco. Unique species of wild orchids are also found.

ShelterBox has had a team of three based in Rieti, and there is continuing support and contact with its Milan-based affiliate and with local Rotarians.

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ShelterBox team arrives in quake zone as journalists and bystanders advised to leave Amatrice

Aerial photo of a flattened Amatrice


ShelterBox team arrives in quake zone as ‘the town is crumbling’ with further tremors. Desperate search for survivors continues, as people sleep outdoors, in cars, in tents

ShelterBox is drawing on all its strengths in responding to the Italy quake. In-country affiliates and local Rotarians have helped the charity’s response team to ‘hit the ground running’ as they arrive in the quake zone today. But the damage is immense, and the ground still shakes

There is little time yet to count the human cost of the earthquake that has levelled the Italian mountain towns and villages of Rieti and Ascoli Piceno provinces. Italy’s National Service of Civil Protection says the possibility of finding people alive is falling as time goes by, but nonetheless 5,000 people are still involved in a massive rescue effort.

The BBC reports that journalists and bystanders have been advised to quit Amatrice as ‘the town is crumbling’, almost completely razed by the ongoing quakes and is expected to have the greatest number of victims. Here, a frantic race against the clock to find any survivors continues. Rescuers were heartened as some children have been found alive, but the overall toll is expected to exceed that of the quake in 2009 in Abruzzo when over 300 people died.

On the second night since the initial quake, there were reports of people spending the night in cars or outdoors, as well as in communal tents provided by the Red Cross and Italian agencies. 

People sleeping outside under a tree

International relief agency ShelterBox now has a response team in the quake zone, arrangements having been made in advance by ShelterBox Italy based in Milan, and by Rotary contacts. Operations Co-ordinator Phil Duloy is heading the team, with Cornwall-based response volunteer Ed Owen, and Italian national Clio Gressani from ShelterBox’s London office.

At ShelterBox’s HQ, Operations Co-ordinator Jon Berg says, We have a team on its way to the affected area to coordinate with the responding agencies and carry out assessments to ascertain the level of need, the options available and most appropriate response from us.’

‘Our Italian contacts and affiliate have been updating us with information since yesterday morning so that we are able to hit the ground running. Our work could potentially include supporting people close to their homes, depending on the safety of each situation, or in community camps planned by the local authorities.’

‘But their first task will be getting a better understanding of the situation and the need.’

With thousands of aid workers now helping across the region it is also possible that ShelterBox could offer temporary accommodation for humanitarian teams from colleague agencies.

Among ShelterBox’s range of aid are a variety of tents, kits with tools and tarpaulins for making temporary shelters, and helpful items such as solar lights to be used where power is down, offering safety and security to displaced families in hours of darkness.

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ShelterBox sends team to Italy following 6.2 quake southeast of Perugia

Italian rescue worker with search dog in Perugia, Italy


A severe earthquake at 1:36 am GMT struck south-east of the Italian city of Perugia last night, killing at least 21, with an unknown number trapped beneath rubble in several villages. This was a shallow quake in a mountainous area, with tremors felt as far away as Rome

International disaster relief agency ShelterBox, based in the UK but with an affiliate organisation in Milan, is sending a team within 24 hours to the remote mountainous area of Italy that suffered a major quake and a series of tremors during last night.

ShelterBox Operations Co-ordinaror Phil Duloy is heading up initial assessment work, and is now making contact with local and government officials in Italy, with ShelterBox’s Rotary and affiliate colleagues, and with partner disaster relief organisations including the Red Cross.

If emergency or temporary shelter is needed for families and individuals made homeless in the disaster, ShelterBox has adequate supplies of tents and other equipment standing by in the UK and at other sites across Europe.

In recent years ShelterBox has deployed to Italian earthquakes twice. In 2012 it supplied 132 tents following a 6.0 quake, and in 2009 in Abruzzo when over 300 people died in a 6.3 quake the charity deployed 294 ShelterBoxes.

Early morning with frost still on the ground, local volunteers from Assergi, a small m ountain village North of Rome, erect Shelterbox tents. The villagers are too scared of further quakes to sleep in their homes and many have spent their second, cold night in their cars.

Early morning with frost still on the ground, local volunteers from Assergi, a small mountain village North of Rome, erect Shelterbox tents. The villagers are too scared of further quakes to sleep in their homes and many have spent their second, cold night in their cars. ©Mike Greenslade/ShelterBox 2009

You can help ShelterBox’s disaster relief efforts in Italy and elsewhere by donating to the ‘ShelterBox Solution’ here: PLEASE DONATE

Slideshow: ShelterBox Working In Cold Climates

White Christmas graphic


Even though the majority of disasters that ShelterBox responds to are in tropical climates, the disaster relief charity also has the capacity to assist in countries with cold climates and, at times, extreme wintry conditions.
The difference lies in the contents of each ShelterBox. More blankets and thermal groundsheets are sent and sometimes sets of hats, gloves and scarfs, bringing more comfort to the family who has lost everything in the disaster.
However it is the thermal liner that makes all the difference to the living conditions in this harsh climate. It is a third layer to the tent that lies between the inner and outer flysheets that helps insulate more heat, keeping the family safe, warm and protected from the freezing elements.
This slideshow depicts some of the colder countries where ShelterBox has helped families made homeless by disaster:
A massive thank you for helping us bring shelter and warmth to these communities affected by humanitarian crises.

More Relief Tents Distributed in Northern Italy

Shelter, warmth and dignity has been brought to over one hundred displaced families with a total of 128 disaster relief tents distributed to those most in need in the towns of Medolla, Concordia, Cavezzo and San Felice.

Many families have benefitted from ShelterBox’s relief tents

It was Danny Whear’s (UK) first deployment as an SRT volunteer and he speaks about one of the worst-hit towns in the region, you can read more here:

ShelterBox Brings Shelter to Italy’s Quake Survivors

ShelterBox tents set up on a football pitch bringing shelter to families made homeless by the disaster in San Felice.

ShelterBox tents set up on a football pitch bringing shelter to families made homeless by the disaster in San Felice.

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck northern Italy on 29 May killing over 15 people and bringing down buildings near the city of Modena. 

Reports say there is significant damage to infrastructure in the Emilia Romagna region and the tremor was felt in the cities of Bologna, Ferrar, Verona and Mantua.

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has been delivering emergency shelter to families displaced by the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the same area on 20 May.

ShelterBox rapidly responded by sending a UK-based Response Team in a van with disaster relief tents. They drove over 4000 kilometres to San Felice – one of the worst affected towns.

You can read more here: