Italy hit by an­other pow­er­ful quake

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

ROME: Italy’s most pow­er­ful earth­quake in 36 years dealt a new blow yes­ter­day to the coun­try’s seis­mi­cally vul­ner­a­ble heart, send­ing ter­ri­fied res­i­dents flee­ing for the third time in nine weeks and flat­ten­ing a revered six-cen­tury-old church.

Fabrizio Cur­cio, head of the na­tional civil pro­tec­tion agency, said around a dozen peo­ple had been in­jured but that there did not ap­pear to have been any fa­tal­i­ties.

“We are check­ing, there are sev­eral peo­ple in­jured but for the mo­ment we have had no re­ports of vic­tims,” Cur­cio said.

The quake struck at 7.40am (2.40pm in Malaysia) near the small cen­tral moun­tain town of Nor­cia, un­leash­ing a shock felt in the cap­i­tal Rome and even in Venice, 300km away.

It mea­sured 6.6 on the so­called mo­ment mag­ni­tude scale, ac­cord­ing to US ge­ol­o­gists, while Ital­ian mon­i­tors es­ti­mated it at 6.5.

It was Italy’s big­gest quake since a 6.9-mag­ni­tude events struck the south of the coun­try in 1980, leav­ing 3,000 peo­ple dead.

Nor­cia’s 14th-cen­tury Basil­ica of Saint Bene­dict, built on the re­puted birth­place of the Catholic saint, was re­duced to rub­ble.

The church is looked after by an in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity of Bene­dic­tine monks based in a lo­cal monastery which at­tracts some 50,000 pil­grims ev­ery year.

“It was like a bomb went off,” the town’s deputy mayor, Pier­luigi Al­tavilla told Rai News 24.

“We are start­ing to de­spair. There are too many quakes now, we can’t bear it any­more.”

Vis­i­bly up­set, some of the monks and other res­i­dents knelt in prayer be­fore the ru­ins.

The basil­ica was in­spected last week by ex­perts from the min­istry of cul­ture and ear­marked for struc­tural re­pair work which could not be car­ried out.

Guiseppe Pez­zanesi, mayor of To­lentino in the neigh­bour­ing Marche re­gion, said the small town had “suf­fered our black­est day yet”.

“The dam­age is ir­repara­ble. There are thousands of peo­ple in the streets, ter­ri­fied, cry­ing.

“Let’s hope that is an end to it, the peo­ple are on their knees psy­cho­log­i­cally.” – AFP

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