120 killed in Italy quake
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