Rescuers hunt for 150 missing people buried under rubble after 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck near Norcia in Umbria, central Italy, at around 3.30am local time killing at least 73
Aftershock of quake shook buildings around 100 miles away in the capital city of Rome, it was felt across Italy and in neighbouring Croatia
Access to Umbrian region a popular european tourist destination has been cutoff, ‘The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone – there are many dead’ – Mayor of Amatrice
A survivor surveys the devastation, the quake left in it’s wake
Rescuers workers recount hearing children’s screams from the rubble and locals were spotted frantically digging with their bare hands to try and save loved ones.
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The quake which devastated the mountainside towns and villages of Amatrice, Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto was so powerful that it even rocked buildings in the centre of Rome more than 100 miles away and was felt as far away as Croatia.The quake’s epicentre was near Norcia in Umbria, about 105 miles
north east of Rome, and falling bridges and landslides meant some areas are still cut off with emergency teams only able to get there on foot.
Stefano Petrucci, mayor of Accumoli, said this morning: ‘My town isn’t here anymore’ as supervised rescue operations, people being evacuated from ruined buildings on stretchers, others desperately searching the debris for survivors or sobbing as they inspected their own ruined homes.
The devastation that was visited on communities close to the epicenter of the quake near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria as most of the structures collapsed
The 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the early hours, has killed at least 73 people and devastated dozens of mountain villages in central Italy. 150 people are still missing in the rubble
Entire blocks of Amatrice — a town near the earthquake’s epicenter famous for being the birthplace of spaghetti all’amatriciana — were destroyed after the first earthquake struck around 3:30 a.m. local time in the mountainous provinces of Umbria and Perugia. Powerful aftershocks followed.
Echoing mayor Petrucci, “The town isn’t here anymore,” Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told state-run RAI radio.
Amatrice was set to host its annual festival for its namesake pasta this weekend. The city center where the festivities honoring the dish — made bacon-like bits of cured pork jowl, pecorino cheese and tomato — is now reduced to rubble.
So far, at least 73 bodies have been found in the debris.
The death toll rose at daybreak when emergency crews rushed to find survivors in the hard-hit towns of Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto and Accumoli, digging into leveled buildings with shovels, bulldozers and their bare hands.
Landslides tore through Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto, quiet villages separated by only two miles built into the lush hillsides of Marche.
At least five people — including a family of four — died when a building in the small town of Accumoli collapsed.
“Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared, with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life,” Accumoli Mayor Stefano Petrucci told Reuters.
In the town of Amatrice, the earthquake totally razed the historical center of the town while the newer part of town appears to be intact
A man reacts to his damaged home after a strong heartquake hit Amatrice on August 24, 2016
The initial tremor was followed by at least seven major aftershocks focused around Norcia, a town 70 miles northeast of Rome, where startled residents in the Italian capital reported swaying homes.
“It felt like the bed was on rollers,” said American tourist Michael Gilroy, telling CNN he witnessed the chaos from his hotel in Montepulciano.
“It was initially very confusing,” he said. “I’m from California and had a sense of what it may be. And we ran out to the main area and the chandelier was swaying back and forth.”
Gilroy and his girlfriend were among several guests who fled their three-story hotel 70 miles west of the earthquake’s epicenter in Norcia.
Very few structures remain intact at the quake’s epicenter in the town of Amartrice
Nun checks her phone sitting next to a victim laid on a ladder
Earthquake victim with a large gash is pulled out of the rubble by rescuers in his head, in Amatrice
Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake Strikes Central Italy Overnight.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center recorded the first earthquake at 6.1-magnitude while the United States Geological Service recorded 6.2-magnitude.
Search and rescue crews navigated through debris-clogged roads to reach razed buildings in Amatrice, where Pirozzi said he could hear “voices under the rubble.”
The earthquake knocked down power for more than 2,700 residents in the town and brought stone buildings tumbling to the ground near the city’s center.
A woman wrapped herself in a blanket and sat outside the remains of her home.
First responders search a crumbled building in Arcuata del Tronto, central Italy
Residents of Amartrice and rescuers walk among the rubble of what once was their homes
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A pair of Afghan refugees were reported missing and a woman and a dog were pulled out of the debris alive amid rows of demolished buildings.
“What can I tell you? It’s a drama,” Pirozzi added.
As news of the devastation reached the Vatican, Pope Francis skipped a catechism lesson and led pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square in prayer for victims.
While the earthquake and aftershocks pierced through several centuries-old communities, Franciscan friars at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi reported no immediate damage following the tremors.
The USGS measured the first aftershock as a 4.6-magnitude near Amatrice and at least four more were recorded near Maltignano and Norcia ranging from 4.0 to 5.5.
The Italian earthquake institute documented at least 60 aftershocks in the four hours following the initial quake.
Frightened people ran into the streets in central Umbria and Le Marche regions shortly after the quake erupted.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s office said rescue teams were being sent to the worst-hit areas. He has cancelled a planned trip to France for a meeting with European Socialist leaders and other engagements to oversee the response to the disaster.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis interrupted his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square to express his shock.
‘To hear the mayor of Amatrice say his village no longer exists and knowing that there are children among the victims, is very upsetting for me,’ he said.
‘I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted.
Francis added: ‘I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, the diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire church.’
‘It was so strong… It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,’ said Lina Mercantini of Umbria, central Italy.
Olga Urbani, in the nearby town of Scheggino, said: ‘Dear God, it was awful. The walls creaked and all the books fell off the shelves.’
The quake is believed to have damaged buildings across the central region while residents in Rome reported their houses ‘swaying’.
Search and rescue crews bring out bodies on stretchers from ruined buildings
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake tore through central Italy and killed more than 300 people.
The devastating death toll sent six scientists and one government official to court on manslaughter charges for failing to communicate the risk of a major quake in the wake of numerous low-magnitude tremors, according to Agence France-Presse reports. The accused scientists reassured the public that the smaller tremors did not indicate an impending disaster. All seven were found guilty in 2012, but their convictions were appealed two years later.