Twin quakes rock Italy

> Hun­dreds flee their homes, dozens in­jured

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

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

REUTERSPIX

A col­lapsed build­ing is seen next to a petrol sta­tion af­ter the earth­quakes hit the Ital­ian mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Visso yes­ter­day.

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