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Italy earthquake: Race to find survivors after 6.2 magnitude quake kills dozens in central Italy


No reports of Australians killed or injured

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Australian government had not received any reports of Australians being killed or injured in an earthquake in central Italy.

He offered his thoughts and prayers to Italy at this “shocking time”, after at least 159 people died and more than 360 people were injured.

“There are no reports of Australians dead or injured to date. Australians in Italy should follow the advice of local authorities,” Mr Turnbull said on radio station on 2GB radio on Thursday.

The town of Pescara del Tronto after the earthquake hit.
The town of Pescara del Tronto after the earthquake hit.  Photo: Getty Images

Breaking: Death toll rises to 159

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency says the death toll from the earthquake in central Italy has risen to at least 159.

Earlier, when the toll stood at 120, authorities warned that the number of victims was expected to rise.

At least 360 people have also been injured.

 

Similar earthquake struck same area in 1639

A devastating earthquake struck the town of Amatrice almost four centuries ago, according to Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

In fact, a panel outside of a convent in Amatrice that was destroyed in Wednesday morning’s quake states that the same building was also badly damaged by an earthquake in 1639.

Seismologist Andrea Tertullian told la Repubblica that the 1639 quake was very similar to Wednesday’s quake in intensity and location. 

According to a witness report from 1639: “The strongest quake lasted a quarter of an hour. There were many dead buried under the ruins.”

A body is carried away as a car is covered in rubble after an earthquake, in Amatrice, central Italy.
A body is carried away as a car is covered in rubble after an earthquake, in Amatrice, central Italy. Photo: ALESSANDRA TARANTINO

Eighty guests were staying at Amatrice hotel

An estimated 80 people were staying at the Hotel Roma in the central Italian town of Amatrice, one of the hardest hit in the earthquake, according to Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

The hotel collapsed when the quake struck just after 3.30am, local time.

About six or seven bodies had since been recovered from the hotel, while a small number of other injured guests were taken to hospital.

The fate and number of those unaccounted for was was not yet known, the mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, told la Repubblica.

A rescue worker told AP about 10pm, local time, that the search had been suspended at the hotel on Wednesday night because it was too dark and dangerous to continue.

This aerial photo shows the historical part of the town of Amatrice after the earthquake.
This aerial photo shows the historical part of the town of Amatrice after the earthquake. Photo: Gregorio Borgia

Convent ‘folded in on itself’

One of the worst-hit buildings in the town of Amatrice was the convent and church of the Most Holy Cruicifix.

The three-storey building, which hosts people for summer retreats, virtually “folded in on itself”, according to Nick Squires, the Rome correspondent for The Daily Telegraph in London.

“I was sleeping but suddenly heard this strange noise. I woke up and saw that everything was destroyed,” said Marianna, 35, a nun who was helping to look after the elderly people at the convent.

Squires writes that a panel on the outside of the convent notes that it was also badly damaged by an earthquake in 1639.

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‘She’s alive!’ Girl, 10, pulled alive from rubble

A 10-year-old girl has been pulled alive from the rubble in Pescara del Tronto, one of the three towns most severely damaged by the earthquake in central Italy.

On Wednesday evening, two women ran up the street yelling: “She’s alive!”

Chief firefighter Danilo Dionesei confirmed the girl was pulled out alive and was taken to a nearby hospital.

He didn’t immediately give any further details about her condition.

– AP

Drone footage reveals scale of devastation

A drone has captured the scale of devastation in the town of Amatrice, which last year was voted one of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns.

Parts of the town were razed by the 6.2-magnitude quake. Many of those killed or missing were visitors.

Obama offers assistance

US President Barack Obama has phoned Italian President Sergio Mattarella to offer his condolences, and any US assistance needed following the quake.

‘Silenzio!’ Searching for signs of life

Rescue workers will continue scouring the rubble throughout the night for any signs of life from trapped survivors.

Earlier in the day in Amatrice, rescue workers ordered silence throughout the search area after possible sounds were detected beneath the destruction.

Tragic scenes emerge from Italy’s rubble

Some heartbreaking stories are emerging from the devastation in earthquake-hit Italy.

Fairfax Media’s Europe correspondent Nick Miller says a grandfather, Massimo Piermarini, rushed to the small mountain town of Arquata del Tronto to search for his grandchildren.

He later learned that one of his granddaughters, Marisol Piermarini, aged 18 months, had died in the night as her house collapsed on her.

“Unfortunately for the little girl there was nothing I could do,” he said.

The girl’s mother, Martina, had moved to the area after surviving the deadly 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila.

Read Miller’s full story here.

A man leans on rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice.
A man leans on rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice. Photo: AP

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What we know so far

It’s just after 10pm now in central Italy, where a strong earthquake has devastated villages nestled in the Apennine mountains.

Here is a summary of what we know so far:

  • At least 120 people have been killed in the earthquake, with the death toll expected to rise.
  • More than 360 people have been injured.
  • Whole villages have been wiped out, and rescuers are racing against the clock to try to find people trapped under the rubble.
  • Many of the dead were in the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto, about 100 kilometres north-east of Rome.
  • The quake struck just after 3.30am at a depth of 10 kilometres, and was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome.
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble following an earthquake in central Italy.
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble following an earthquake in central Italy. Photo: Bloomberg

Why the quake was so severe

The combination of a shallow fault and old, unreinforced masonry buildings led to widespread devastation in the earthquake.

Like other villages and towns in the mountainous area, Amatrice, has stone churches and other buildings that were constructed centuries ago, when little if anything was known about earthquakes. Unless they have been reinforced in recent years, such structures are easily damaged or destroyed by shaking.

The earthquake was less powerful than many recent deadly quakes, but it was very shallow, occurring about 6 miles below the surface.

“Shallow earthquakes cause more destruction than deep earthquakes because the shallowness of the source makes the ground-shaking at the surface worse,” David A. Rothery, professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University in Milton Keynes, England, said.

via The New York Times

Amatrice devastated by quake

One of the worst affected towns, Amatrice, may be best known to people outside the country as a picturesque tourist destination and birthplace of the beloved pasta dish pasta all’amatriciana, a blend of tomato and pork jowl – known as guanciale – sauteed with white wine and poured over pasta.

Via The Washington Post: This coming weekend, the 50th annual spaghetti amatriciana festival was scheduled for Amatrice’s town square, which is now little more than a pile of rubble.

Wednesday morning undoubtedly marked the most tragic day in Amatrice, with its mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, telling local media: “The town is no more.”

Italians have already begun honouring the town in a way that Amatrice is sure to appreciate: donating 1 euro to the Red Cross for each dish of amatriciana sold in restaurants. 

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice, Italy.
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice, Italy. Photo: Bloomberg

‘All I could see was destruction’

Mariana Lleshi, a Catholic nun from Albania, said seven of the 20 women at her religious institute in Amatrice were still unaccounted for. She was injured but managed to escape the building with the help of a stranger.

“I remember hearing something, a loud noise, and then hiding under my bed,” she said. “I was screaming, and I got out and started running when the ceiling started coming down.”

She said a young Colombian man who was staying overnight at the institute found her in the chaos and guided her out to safety.

“All I could see was destruction around me,” she said. “I had lost all hope to get out of this alive, but God sent me his messenger.”

via The Washington Post

Death toll rises to 120 “pain without limits”

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the death toll has risen to 120. 

“And this toll is not final,” he said, adding: “It is a pain without limits.”

According to Reuters, a total of 368 injured and sick people had been rescued from the two worst-hit villages, Amatrice and Accumoli, after the earthquake of a magnitude of at least 6 struck in the early hours on Wednesday.

Dozens of people are still missing with hopes of finding them alive fading.

A man leans on rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice Italy.
A man leans on rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice Italy. Photo: AP

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Reuters has captured some incredible drone footage of the earthquake’s impact.

The Queen has sent a message to the people of Italy. 

“Prince Philip and I were saddened to hear of the loss of life following the earthquake in central Italy,” Her Majesty said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Italy, especially the family and friends of those affected.”

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble.
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble.  Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico

A sign of the times. 

The Red Cross is asking Italians in the affected area to open up their wifi by removing password security restrictions, so that those in the area can contact their loved ones as easily as possible.

A woman holds a child as they stand in the street following an earthquake, in Amatrice, Italy.
A woman holds a child as they stand in the street following an earthquake, in Amatrice, Italy. Photo: MASSIMO PERCOSSI

The adage ” a picture says a thousand words” is particularly true in these circumstances. 

The level and scale of destruction is hard to fathom without an image. 

 

Pescara del Tronto - the town destroyed by the earthquake.
Pescara del Tronto – the town destroyed by the earthquake.  Photo: Getty Images

Russia offers help

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has offered help. 

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