Six dead after earthquake strikes northern Italy


SIX PEOPLE were killed, more than 50 were injured and about 3,000 were left homeless in the wake of an earthquake in central Italy early yesterday.

The earthquake, which registered 6.0 on the Richter scale, comes just three years after the devastating quake in L’Aquila in April 2009 in which more than 300 people lost their lives.

The epicentre of the weekend’s quake, which first struck at about 4am yesterday, was 36km north of the city of Bologna with the worst of the damage being registered in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara. Four of the victims died while working on the night shift in factories close to Ferrara, while two died as a result of the stress and fright caused by the quake.

As so often with earthquakes, much distress was caused by a series of aftershocks which continued throughout yesterday with one of them registering 5.1 just after 3pm yesterday.

The ministry of arts said various listed and protected buildings had suffered “considerable” damage. Many churches were badly hit, while the Torre Dell’Orlogio and the Palazzo dei Veneziani in Finale Emilia both suffered a partial collapse.

In the town of Sant’Agostino di Ferrara, the exterior wall of the town hall was ripped open, while a 14th-century fortified castle at San Felice sul Panaro, north of Bologna, lost both parapets and watchtowers.

Today, all schools, libraries and museums in the province of Ferrara will remain closed as a precautionary measure until engineers can check out the stability of all public buildings.

Likewise, all public events in the area, be they cultural or sporting, have been suspended.

Italian prime minister Mario Monti, in the US last weekend for the G8 summit at Camp David, is expected to declare a state of emergency in the area at tomorrow morning’s cabinet meeting.

The Italian National Council of Geologists yesterday issued an appeal for the enforcement of anti-seismic building regulations in Italy.

It points out that even though half of Italian territory is subject to seismic risk and that the country experiences about 2,000 earthquakes of various dimensions each year, 60 per cent of Italian homes were built before 1971, while anti-seismic regulations were introduced only in 1974.