Earthquake devastates Italian towns
At least 159 people were killed and thousands left homeless after a magnitudeearthquake devastated a string of mountainous towns in central Italy on Wednesday, trapping residents under piles of rubble.
The quake struck in the early hours of the morning when most people were asleep, destroying homes and buckling roads in a cluster of towns and villages about 140 km east of Rome.
The emergency services released an aerial photograph showing whole areas of the town of Amatrice flattened, while debris filled the streets in nearby Accumoli.
“Now that daylight has come, we see the situation
is even more dreadful than we feared, with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life,” said Accumoli Mayor Stefano Petrucci.
Wide cracks appeared on the buildings that were still standing.
Residents sifted through the rubble with their hands before emergency services arrived with earth-moving equipment and sniffer dogs.
The quake struck during the summer vacation season when local populations, which are normally low during the rest of the year, are swelled by visitors.
“It’s terrible, I’m 65 years old and I have never experienced anything like this, small tremors, yes, but nothing this big. This is a catastrophe,” said one Amatrice resident.
Rescuers work following an earthquake in Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, on Wednesday.