Monday 21st May 2012, 14:52 London
Italy avoids major earthquake damage
Collapse of Italfrutta melon packhouse near Modena not thought to be typical as fruit business emerges largely unscathed
Fresh produce companies operating in the northern Italian region of Emilia Romagna, which was struck by a powerful earthquake at the weekend, have apparently emerged largely unscathed despite widespread damage particularly to agricultural holdings and some of the area's oldest buildings.
Although some greenhouses close to the epicentre in Finale Emilia – between Modena and Ferrara – sustained significant damage, according to farming organisation Coldiretti, the extent of the losses incurred by the region's sizeable fruit business appeared to be minimal.
One packhouse used to handle and process melons in San Felice sul Panaro, near Modena, was understood to have suffered "huge damage" after part of the facility fell down.
The packhouse belonged to the cooperative Italfrutta, a subsidiary of Agrintesa and part of leading fresh produce group Apo Conerpo.
Despite the damage, no injury or loss of life was reported as a result of the collapse, but the centre remained unusable as of Monday, 21 May.
Elsewhere, however, the situation appeared to be generally one of relief for the Italian fruit and vegetables business, with fears of a possible major loss of production – as occurred during the devastating Chilean earthquake of February 2010, when fruit was literally shaken off trees in some cases – generally said to be easing.
"Everything is fine here, just a lot of fear but no particular damage," said Luciano Luciani of Commercio Italia, a fresh produce trading company based in Ravenna, around 80km south-east of the epicentre.
"As regards both fruit specifically and agriculture in general, there aren't any particular problems," he added. "As far as I can tell the fruit packhouses have not suffered any damage, although some industrial buildings have been destroyed."
"The area hit is above all countryside, so it's sparsely populated with just a few small villages."