Half the town is gone, says Amatrice mayor as 6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes central Italy; toll rises to 14
Central Italy was hit by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, triggering the collapse of dozens of buildings and a red alert for the possibility of casualties and further damage.
Rome: Central Italy was hit by a powerful, 6.2-magnitude earthquake on Wednesday, triggering the collapse of dozens of buildings and a red alert for the possibility of casualties and further damage.
At least 14 people have died so far. As per reports, the first quake struck shortly after 3.30 am (0130 GMT), according to the United States Geological Survey.
USGS’ PAGER system, which predicts the impact of earthquakes, however, issued a red alert -- suggesting casualties and damage based on previous quake data.
A resident of the Rieti region, which is between Rome and the epicentre of the quake, told the Rainews24 channel that she and most of her neighbours had come out onto the street after feeling “very strong shaking”.
The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Pirozzi, told state-run RAI radio that there were downed buildings in the city centre and that the lights had gone out. He said access to the Amatrice had been blocked, making it impossible for rescue services to get through.
“The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone,” Sergio Pirozzi, mayor of Amatrice, told RAI state television.
“There are people under the rubble... There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse.”
Amatrice is famous in Italy as a beauty spot and is a popular holiday destination for Romans seeking cool mountain air at the height of the summer.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said the earthquake was “severe” and there had been reports of damage, while a refuge on Gran Sasso mountain said on its Facebook page that a large piece of rock collapsed in the quake.
The hardest-hit towns were reported as Amatrice, Accumoli and Norcia.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center has put the magnitude at 6.1 and said the epicentre was northeast of Rome, near Rieti.
A 2009, 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
Italy is often shaken by earthquakes. Another quake hit the northern Emilia Romagna region in May 2012, when two violent shocks 10 days apart left 23 people dead and 14,000 others homeless.