BREAKING: Massive Earthquake Hits Central Italy. Town Of Amatrice 'Isn't There Anymore'
Central Italy was hit with a potentially deadly series of earthquake in the early hours of Wednesday morning that could be felt in the capital itself, and which led at least one Italian mayor to say his town had been destroyed.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a magnitude 6.2 quake struck Perugia province northeast of Rome. The epicenter of the quake was about 6 miles southeast of Norcia, USGS reported.
Multiple aftershocks were reported and at least two were major enough for the USGS to track and report — one of 4.6 magnitude and another of 5.5.
Reports of damage to the area began trickling in early Wednesday.
“Mayor of Amatrice: the area is no more,” reported La Reppublica newspaper, according to a tweet by Italian journalist Massimo Russo translated by The Washington Times.
“The area is gone. There are people under the rubble, I fear there are deaths,” Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice, told state broadcaster RAI, according to a computer-assisted translation by The Washington Times.
“We can hear people screaming trapped under the ruins. We need help!” he also said, though he added that access roads into the town were blocked.
Italy’s La Reppublica newspaper cited the local Red Cross as “confirming that at least one bridge collapsed” in Amatrice.
Pictures of collapsed buildings throughout central Italy dotted social media and “there has been extensive damage to Castelluccio,” according to La Reppublica.
Pope Francis prayed the rosary with the crowd at St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday on behalf of the victims.
Italy has been hit with three major fatal earthquakes in the past decade. The largest death toll of the three was the 300 people killed in the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, just south of Wednesday’s epicenter.
All three of those quakes were about the same strength as the latest temblor, ranging from 5.8 magnitude to 6.3.
According to a USGS color-coded map, the quake could be felt throughout central Italy, with the effects in Rome being between “moderate” and “strong.” The immediate area, where the USGS said the shake effects were “very strong,” is a series of small towns and valleys clustering through the Apennine mountains.
Zachary Sussman, the manager of NYU Graduate Creative Writing program and a wine columnist, tweeted from the Umbria region about feeling the tremor.
“Definitely just got woken up by the #earthquake here in Umbria. Bed shaking like crazy. Totally fine, just disoriented,” he wrote.
The earthquake-monitoring center EMSC posted a map of the social-media reactions to the quake which showed that almost all were from some distance away. There was no reaction on the map from near the quake’s epicenter.