Italy earthquake: More than 15,000 people in shelters
ITALY - More than 15,000 people are being housed in temporary shelters after a powerful earthquake sunday jolted central Italy, a region battered by relentless tremors since August.
Dramatic images from the disaster zone show villages that appear entirely flattened, with historical buildings, including churches, crumbling when the quake struck 10 kilometers below the earth’s surface. Remarkably, there have been no reports of deaths from the 6.6-magnitude quake -- the strongest to hit the country in more than three decades -- as many of the towns had been evacuated following a devastating earthquake in August, which killed almost 300 people, as well as string tremors earlier last week.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said that of the 15,000 people it was assisting, more than 4,000 had been put up in hotel rooms on the Adriatic coast, while 10,000 were in temporary shelters in the regions of Umbria and Marche.
More than 1,100 additional people are still in shelters from August’s quake. The true number of displaced since then, however, is believed to be much higher, as many victims have taken shelter with family or friends.
The deadly quake in August caused severe damage across several towns in central Italy, and Sunday’s tremor brought down some of the weakened structures left standing. It destroyed part of the remaining bell tower in Amatrice, which stood above the rubble as a symbol of hope in August’s devastating quake.
“We will have to start from scratch,” Michele Franchi, the deputy mayor of the affected Arquata del Tronto, told Italy’s Rai television. The biggest loss of heritage Sunday was the Basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia, which many residents consider to be the heart of the city. It collapsed Sunday, leaving only its façade and the back part of its foundation intact.
Many communities in central Italy are tiring of the quakes, and some are refusing to leave. Some residents slept in their cars over the weekend through the tremors.
“Everyone has been suspended in a never-ending state of fear and stress. They are at their wits’ end,” Bishop Renato Boccardo of Norcia told Reuters.
Michele Franchi, the deputy mayor of Arquata del Tronto, told Rai television: “This morning’s quake has hit the few things that were left standing. We will have to start from scratch.”
The quake was felt as far north as the Alps, Curcio said, and as far south as Rome, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) away. The metro in Rome has been shut down as authorities continue to survey the area, municipal officials said.
Temporary shelters set up in the town of Arquata del Tronto.