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247 dead as 6.2 Magnitude Quake Shakes mountanous Region of Central Italy

Region slowly recovers, much cultural heritage appears to be damaged or lost.


August 26, 2016

Before and after photo of the clock tower in Amatrice, Italy.

A major earthquake struck central Italy this evening, 6.2 miles southeast of the town of Norcia. People were reported to be trapped under debris, with heavy damage. There were 3 major shakes between 3:36 am and 4:33 am local time, said Cindy Wooden.

There's been a landslide in Amatrice. People are reportedly trapped under rubble in town, said @deriklattig. The mayor reports 73 deaths By evening.

Buildings in Amatrice go back hundreds of years, which makes the town historic. But not an ideal place to be in an earthquake. Brick and earthen buildings are especially vulnerable.

The USGS gave the earthquake a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, and advised US Citizens in Italy to check in with friends on social media.

At least two people were killed in the quake, which sent frightened townspeople out of their homes and running into the streets. Experts say to find a doorway during an earthquake; but panicky people tend to run into the street as if by instinct.

The shallow quake, estimated to have struck after 3:30am at a depth of 4km, was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic centre felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.

The region is among the seismically most active in Italy, being affected by the meeting of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates and a fault running along the Apennine Mountains. This was the largest tremor since 2009,[4] when an earthquake near L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region killed more than 300 people and displaced about 65,000 people.

The initial earthquake was followed by at least 40 strong aftershocks. The quake was initially reported by USGS to have occurred at a depth of 10.0 km (6.2 mi) with a magnitude of 6.4.

The magnitude was later corrected by USGS to 6.2 while the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the magnitude at 6.1[7][8] and the INGV registered the quake as having a 6.0 magnitude.

Early reports indicated severe damage in the town of Amatrice, near the epicenter, and in Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto. Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice, stated that, "Amatrice is not here anymore, half of the town is destroyed." Photos of the destruction depicted a massive pile of rubble in the town's center with only a few structures still standing on the outskirts. The tremor and a number of aftershocks were felt across large parts of central Italy, including Rome, Naples, and Florence.

Amatrice before the earthquake had medieval buildings. Duomo is damaged

In addition to the loss of human life, widespread destruction of cultural heritage is also feared. In Amatrice, the facade and rose window of the church of Sant’Agostino were destroyed. The quake also created cracks in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Perozzi, told state-run RAI Radio 1 that there were downed buildings in the city centre and that the lights had gone out. He said he was unable to get in touch with emergency responders or reach the hospital. "What can I tell you? It's a tragedy," he said.

In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the same region and killed more than 300 people. The earlier earthquake struck L'Aquila in central Italy, about 55 miles south of the latest quake.


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