The families of an Italian coastal town were left heartbroken after coffins of their loved ones tumbled into the ocean from a century-old cemetery hit by a landslide.
About 200 coffins were dragged into the Mediterranean Sea after the cliff-top cemetery in Camogli village, near the north-west city of Genoa, collapsed when a landslide struck on Monday.
To the shock of family members, dozens of coffins were seen floating in the sea and many other caskets are feared to be buried under the debris or damaged and never to be found again.
“It is an unimaginable catastrophe,” Francesco Olivar, Mayor of Camogli said.
Only 10 coffins have been recovered out of the estimated 200 coffins that went down, according to Giacomo Giampedrone, regional assessor of civil protection. He said recovering the rest of them will “depend on the sea in the coming days”
The landslide destroyed two chapels at the burial ground that sat on a rocky seaside cliff.
On Tuesday, the efforts to rescue the coffins continued as exasperated family members of those buried in the cemetery waited anxiously.
“My legs are shaking, it’s like he’s dead again,” a woman named Pamela told a local newspaper Il Secolo XIX, adding that she feared her father’s ashes were likely lost in the sea.
Another resident Dimitri Perini said he has two of his family members resting at the cemetery and ran to the site as soon as he was told about the collapse.
Dramatic images from the affected area showed a large portion of the cliff chipped off and coffins lying among the rubble and debris about 160ft below.
— Tg1 (@Tg1Rai) February 22, 2021
Residents were also reportedly angered as they blamed authorities for not taking cognisance of the matter as experts blamed the landslide on coastal erosion.
“I lost my grandmother, I don’t even know if we will find her again. And now I try to understand that my father didn’t go down too. It’s a shame,“ Germana Zoppi, another resident, who was angry at the commercialisation of the area, told the newspaper.
On Saturday, maintenance work being performed along the area of the fragile coastline was abruptly stopped when workers noticed cracks in the rock.
”This type of collapse that happened today is very hard to detect or to predict,“ Mr Olivar said. ”This area is subject to this type of collapse — it’s very fragile.“
He said surveillance work with drones is being conducted by a team of geologists to know about the danger of another possible landslide.