Large Earthquake Strikes Central Italy, Killing Several People
OME — Strong earthquakes struck central Italy early Wednesday, killing several people, trapping many others under debris and setting off tremors that awakened sleeping residents in Rome nearly 100 miles away.
The first, 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck at 3:36 a.m. near the town of Accumoli, in the province of Rieti.
The mayor of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, reported that six people had been killed there. And at least two people were reported to have been killed in Pescara del Tronto in the province of Ascoli Piceno, according to the authorities.
Severe damage was reported in Amatrice, where Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said, “Half the town no longer exists.”
He added that Amatrice had been cut off because of damage to roads and a bridge, and appealed during a live television broadcast for assistance.
“There are people stuck in the rubble,” he said, calling on emergency services to help clear roads.
“Houses are no longer there,” he added, suggesting that victims had been buried in the debris.
The paths of destruction led to other places, including the Tyrrhenian coast. A witness in Sperlonga, a popular seaside town in Lazio, said that the historic city center had been seriously damaged, and news channels showed photos of crumbled buildings and rubble-covered cars.
The earthquake was felt from Rome to Bologna, in Emilia Romagna, in a broad area pockmarked with dozens of small towns, and Italian officials said it was difficult to gauge the number of casualties or the damage as the ground kept trembling through the night.
Fabrizio Curcio, the director of Italy’s Civil Protection Department, said that the earthquake had been severe and that national emergency procedures had been activated.
On social media, there were many reports of friends or relatives being buried or trapped under rubble. But local people said ambulances and rescue teams were having difficulty getting to the mountainous area, where most towns are reachable only along winding country roads.
In Norcia, dozens of residents wrapped in blankets greeted the dawn in the town’s main square. “Much of our patrimony is damaged, but there are no victims,” Mayor Nicola Alemanno told RaiNews24. “That is the good news.”
The National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology reported that there had been nearly a dozen other earthquakes in the affected area over the course of about two hours.
None was as strong as the 6.2 quake.
Katherine Selby, who is from Nottingham, England, was vacationing with her family in Campagnano di Roma, just outside Rome, when the wardrobe doors began “shaking like crazy,” she wrote on Twitter.
It was frightening because it was unclear what was going on, she said, adding that she was anxiously waiting for the next aftershock.
She said there was no damage.
The United States Geological Survey said the population in the region lived in structures that were a “mix of vulnerable and earthquake-resistant construction.”
In 2009, a devastating earthquake in the Abruzzo region of central Italy killed more than 300 people and left about 65,000 homeless.