Earthquake leaves at six dead in central Italy
AT LEAST six people are dead and many more are reportedly trapped under rubble after a powerful earthquake brought buildings crashing down and made one city “disappear” in central Italy.
The shallow, 6.2-magnitude quake struck 10km southeast of Norcia, a town in the province of Perugia in southeastern Umbria in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey.
The quake was felt as far away as Rome, about 150km away from the epicentre, as homes in the historic centre swayed about 3.30am local time.
Police have confirmed that an elderly couple was killed in the disaster after their home collapsed at Pescara del Tronto in the Marche region.
Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi told RAI television the death toll had reached six.
“Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children,” Mr Petrucci said.
Witnesses told Italian media that many buildings had collapsed in villages close to the epicentre of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria.
People reportedly ran into streets in central Umbria and Le Marche, according to state-run RAI radio.
There are reports the city of Amatrice, near the epicentre, was “destroyed” and that “half of the city disappeared”. Amatrice is a mountain village in neighbouring Lazio, with a population of less than 3000 people, that was packed with visitors at the peak of the summer season.
Flavio Maccarone, 35, of the Ascoli Piceno province, told news.com.au the “aftershocks keep giopng so we are outside praying that it stops soon”.
“We feel terrified. It feels like we are experiencing again the Perugia quake in 1997 or the Aquila quake in 2009.
“It never ends. We cannot sleep in peace. We are trying to stay calm but it is hard. Our poor people and all our history is damaged.
“You can’t control it. There is nothing you can do. We feel hopeless. The quake affected such a wide area it is hard to send targeted help.
Mr Maccarone said the quake had caused widespread destruction and that he had fears for his friend in Amatrice.
“I keep calling him but he is not answering. I hope it is just a bad signal,” he said.
“Half the country needs help … how do you do that?”
A resident of the Rieti region, which is between Rome and the epicentre of the quake, told the Rainews24 channel that she and most of her neighbours had come out onto the street after feeling “very strong shaking.”
In 2009 a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
Italy is often shaken by earthquakes. Another quake hit the northern Emilia Romagna region in May 2012, when two violent shocks 10 days apart left 23 people dead and 14,000 others homeless.