At least 63 people have died with more severely injured after an earthquake struck Italy’s central regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo.
According to La Repubblica, the first wave of earthquakes began at 3.36am in the comunes of Al Quarta del Tronto, Accumoli and Amatrice, where the worst damage was reported with several people remaining buried under the wreckage. Among the victims are several children. “Amatrice does not exist anymore, there are still dozens of people trapped under the rubble,” said the Mayor of the town Sergio Pozzi. The historical center of the town, where several Medieval churches and sites had been destroyed.
Il Corriere reported the first seismic wave to have had a magnitude of 6.0 at a depth of 4 km, lasting 142 seconds. It was followed by another wave measuring 4.4, only 20 minutes later and several others in a three hour time-span across the regions. The waves were also felt in the cities of Bologna, Rome and Napoli. However, no serious damage has been reported in any of the cities so far. Other waves continued to take place from 6am to 2pm.
“The most critical moments are yet to come, when we will be able to enter the imploded houses and find the dead bodies.
“This second phase will start tonight, but will be most focused over the coming days,” said the head of the civil protection unit of Valle del Velino, Paolo Crescenzi, to Il Fatto Quotidiano.
The Mayor of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, accused the rescue team of being late stating that the first fire unit only arrived at 7:40 am, approximately four hours after the initial shock had occurred, according to Il Giornale. The rescuers reportedly encountered difficulties in reaching Accumoli due to the collapse of various buildings blocking the streets, reports Il Messaggero.
The photographer Emiliano Grillotti described the rescue work of at least 15 people who tried to dig under the rubble with their bare hands to rescue the victims: “We could hear the screams of one child and her mother,” he said. When they were found they had not managed to survive.
In 2009, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 shattered Italy’s central region of Abruzzi and nearby areas, where a total of 309 were reported dead, 1,600 injured and 80,000 displaced.
Update 25th August 13:46: Conflicting accounts of the earthquake’s magnitude have appeared. La Repubblica, Il Corriere and Il Giornale report 6.0. Reuters, CNN and BBC report 6.2. At least 241 people have been reported dead.