120 killed in Italy quake

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

AT least 120 peo­ple have died af­ter a pow­er­ful earth­quake struck cen­tral Italy, de­stroy­ing dozens of vil­lages.

The of­fi­cial death toll from the civil pro­tec­tion agency yes­ter­day came hours af­ter res­cue ef­forts to save peo­ple trapped un­der col­lapsed build­ings.

The first con­firmed vic­tims of the earth­quake were an el­derly cou­ple whose home col­lapsed at Pescara del Tronto in the Marche re­gion to the east of the epi­cen­tre, na­tional broad­caster Rai and other me­dia out­lets re­ported.

Many oth­ers were trapped, feared dead, in their col­lapsed houses close to the epi­cen­tre.

The US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey said it was a 6.2 mag­ni­tude quake that hit near the town of Nor­cia, in the re­gion of Um­bria, at 3.36AM lo­cal time. The earth­quake caused build­ings to col­lapse and sent pan­icked res­i­dents flee­ing into the streets of nu­mer­ous towns and ci­ties.

The mayor of the small town of Ama­trice re­ported ex­ten­sive dam­age.

“Half the town is gone,” Ser­gio Pirozzi told RAI state tele­vi­sion. “There are peo­ple un­der the rub­ble. . . . There’s been a land­slide and a bridge might col­lapse.”

Italy’s civil pro­tec­tion agency said the earth­quake was “se­vere”.

A 5.5 mag­ni­tude af­ter­shock hit the same re­gion an hour af­ter the ini­tial quake.

Luca Cari, fire depart­ment spokesman, said “there have been re­ports of vic­tims” in the quake zone, but he did not have any pre­cise de­tails.

Be­sides Ama­trice, the worst hit towns were be­lieved to be Ac­cu­moli, Posta and Arquata del Tronto, Cari told Reuters news agency, adding that he­li­copters would be sent up at first light to as­sess the dam­age. — Al Jazeera

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