Earthquake leaves atleast 18 dead in central Italy


Rome (Online): A powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake devastated mountain villages in central Italy on Wednesday, leaving at least 18 people dead and dozens more injured or unaccounted for.
Scores of buildings were reduced to dusty piles of masonry in communities close to the epicentre of the pre-dawn quake in a remote area straddling the regions of Umbria, Marche and Lazio.
Deaths were reported in the villages of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto as residents and emergency services battled frantically to rescue people trapped beneath the ruins after the quake hit as people slept.
It was Italy’s most powerful earthquake since 2009, when about 300 people died in and around the city of Aquila, just to the south of the area hit on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi cancelled a planned trip to France for a meeting with European Socialist leaders and other engagements to oversee the response to the disaster.A deadly earthquake hit central Italy and left 13 dead and hundreds other have been injured.
The quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome, at a shallow depth of 10km. Some buildings in the capital shook for 20 seconds. Officials warned the number of fatalities was likely to rise. The head of the civil protection department compared the earthquake’s intensity to Aquila in April 2009 in which 309 people died. Some of the worst damage was in the town of Amatrice, where several people died and rescue efforts were under way to find survivors. The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone. There are people under the rubble. There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse,” mayor Sergio Perozzi told RAI radio.
The main street through the town has been devastated and emergency workers are trying to reach six people in a collapsed building. In Accumoli, a short distance to the north, the mayor said six people had died. One person was pulled out of the rubble during the night,” said Stefano Petrucci. Then there is a family of four under a collapsed house and sadly there are two small children among them. Meanwhile police said two people had died in the village of Pescara del Tronto. Seismologist Andrea Tertullian said there were sure to be further, numerous shocks that would probably diminish in intensity.
“But it can’t be ruled out that there could be another shock on the same scale as the main one,” he said. Italy’s Civil Protection agency described the earthquake as “severe”. It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,” Lina Mercantini of Ceselli, Umbria.
Quakes are an ever-present danger for those who live along the Apennine mountain range in Italy. Through the centuries thousands have died as a result of tremors equal to, or not much bigger than, the event that struck in the early hours of Wednesday. The modern response, thankfully, has been more robust building and better preparation.
Mediterranean seismicity is driven by the great collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates; but when it comes down to the specifics of this latest quake, the details are far more complicated. The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of Italy, between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up. Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or “pull-apart”, along the Apennines. This stress is compounded by movement in the east, in the Adriatic, where the crust is pushing in and under Italy.
The result is a major fault system that runs the length of the mountain range with a series of smaller faults that fan off to the sides. The foundations of cities like Perugia and L’Aquila stand on top of it all. The quake was initially reported as being magnitude 6.4. It was followed by several powerful aftershocks