Twin quakes rock Italy
> Hundreds flee their homes, dozens injured
ROME: Hundreds of people awoke in emergency shelters in Italy yesterday after fleeing their homes following a series of strong quakes in the same region struck by a devastating tremor two months ago.
After a night of heavy rain, rescuers were trying to assess the full extent of the latest disaster in central Italy, which toppled buildings and injured dozens.
A series of aftershocks rattled the area through the night after two quakes with a magnitude of 5.5 and 6.1 struck on Wednesday evening and sent people fleeing their houses in terror.
“Many houses have collapsed. Our town is finished,” Marco Rinaldi, mayor of the mountain town of Ussita, told Sky Italy TV.
“The second quake was a long, terrible one.”
One man was reported to have died of a heart attack, and dozens of people were injured, the authorities said.
The tremors struck an area northeast of the capital Rome near Amatrice, the town flattened by a 6.0-6.2 quake which killed almost 300 people and injured hundreds more in August.
The first 5.5 magnitude quake on Wednesday sent people out of their residences, likely saving lives when the second, more destructive, 6.1 magnitude one struck two hours later.
In both cases, the epicentre was near the village of Visso in the central Marche region.
“I’ve felt a lot of earthquakes but that was the strongest I’ve ever felt. Fortunately everyone had already left their homes after the first quake so I don’t think anyone was hurt,” Rinaldi said.
Several dozen people were treated for light injuries or shock, civil protection chief Fabrizio Curcio told a news conference, but no serious injuries had been reported.
“Ultimately, the situation is not as catastrophic as might have been expected” given the strength of the tremors, he said.
The quakes were felt in Rome, where residents also ran into the streets.
The second was felt as far away as Venice in the far north, and Naples, south of the capital.
Italian channels broadcast images of collapsed buildings and people standing dazed in front of their ruined houses.
“It is not very easy to make assessments in the dark and the weather is bad in the whole region. We will have to see more precisely in the light of day,” Curcio said.
Across the region, hospitals, a university residence, a retirement home and even a prison had to be evacuated. – AFP
A collapsed building is seen next to a petrol station after the earthquakes hit the Italian municipality of Visso yesterday.