Italy earthquake: damage as central Italy hit again by magnitude 6.6 shock

Already damaged buildings crumble after a week of quakes, thousands left homeless

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 has rocked central and southern Italy.

 

Italy has been rocked by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake, hitting the central Italian region already reeling from a series of large quakes.

The epicentre of the quake, according to initial reports, was about 68km south-west of Perugia and close to the town of Norcia, which had been hit by two successive quakes on Wednesday night that caused extensive damage.

There were no initial reports of fatalities but the head of the civil protection agency, Fabrizio Curcio, said “a dozen” people were injured, with one person described as being in a serious condition.

Emergency services pulled out three people alive from the rubble in the town of Tolentino in Marche.

While there was relief that the area seemed to have been spared mass causalities - in large part because affected areas had already been abandoned after the previous quake - the damage wreaked on ancient structures across the hilly region of Marche and Umbria underscored that the landscape of this historic region would never be the same again.

The quake, which was felt in Rome and Naples, levelled historic structures that had already sustained major damage, including a tower and St Augustine church in Amatrice - the town devastated by a major earthquake in August that killed about 300 people.

In Norcia, a town in Umbria, the basilica of San Benedetto was destroyed, as was the town’s cathedral, where only remnants of the church’s facade still stood.

On Sunday morning, live television images showed firefighters in Norcia’s main square helping people running down small alleyways seeking safety. They included many monks and nuns in their habits from a nearby monastery.

Authorities were also reporting extensive damage in other towns of the region. Apart from Rome and Naples, tremors were also felt in neighbouring countries including Slovenia and Croatia.

“It all came down. Now there is no more town,” said the mayor of Arquata del Tronto, Aleandro Petrucci. There had already been “red zones” in place, abandoned after the previous quakes. “The few people who remained have gone out to the streets and are embracing. Now we’re going around to see what happened,” he said.

Cesare Spuri, the head of civil protection in Marche, said: “There are collapses everywhere. We report collapses in Muccia, Tolentino and in the areas surrounding Macerata. We’re trying to establish if people are underneath the rubble. There was also a strong shock in Ancona.”

“Everything’s collapsed. I see plumes of smoke, it’s a disaster,” said Marco Rinaldi, the mayor of Ussita, a town in the Marche region that was among the worst hit in a 6.1-magnitude quake that struck Italy on Wednesday night.

In Rome, the quake caused far more concern than Wednesday’s as it was felt much more strongly and for a longer period. The city’s metro was shut down for safety checks in case of damage.

“I was woken up by the earthquake,” Gianpaolo Giovannelli, who lives in the Flaminio area of Rome, told the Guardian. “The apartment started to shake. We feel them here in Rome, but we never get used to them so each time we feel fear.”

Assia Staffoli, a mother of two from Rome, said her husband put their six-year-old daughter under the table when they felt the earthquake, which caused their bedrooms, on a mezzanine level, to shake badly.

“That’s what you’re told to do when there’s an earthquake, go under the table,” Ms Staffoli said. “I was feeding my son [aged seven months] when it happened. We then quickly left the apartment.”

The Guardian