Italy earthquake: at least two dead as buildings collapse after 6.2 magnitude quake

Italy earthquake: at least two dead as buildings collapse after 6.2 magnitude quake - This is not the first time this region of Italy has been struck by a high intensity quake. Rieti, the epicentre of the quake, is only 60km from L’Aquila where hundreds of people were killed in an earthquake in 2009.

More than 300 people died after a 6.3-magnitude tremor hit the capital of the mountainous Abruzzo region. The earthquake wrecked L’Aquila’s historic centre, injured more than 1,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

The disaster also sparked a long-running legal battle which saw some of Italy’s leading experts on natural disasters convicted of giving fale assurances about the risk of an earthquake in the region.

Italy earthquake: at least two dead as buildings collapse after 6.2 magnitude quake

Three years after the quake, seven scientists from the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks were found guilty of offering an unjustifiably optimistic assessment to the local population a week before the disaster. By then, the area had been hit by some 400 tremors over a period of four months and a local researcher had warned of the risk of a major earthquake, largely on the basis of abnormal radon emissions.

We’ve just published our first report on the quake. Here’s an excerpt that outlines the key points:
An earthquake recorded at magnitude 6.2 has struck central Italy, with reports of extensive damage, people trapped, others fleeing into the streets and blackouts near the epicentre.
The mayor of the small town of Amatrice said residents were buried under debris and the town “isn’t here any more”.
The US Geological Survey said the quake hit near the town of Norcia in the region of Umbria at 3.36am. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the magnitude at 6.1 and said the epicentre was north-east of Rome, near Rieti.
Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor in Amatrice, near Rieti, reported extensive damage. “Half the town is gone,” he told RAI state television. “There are people under the rubble … There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse.”
Italy’s civil protection agency said the earthquake was “severe”. Fire department spokesman Luca Cari said “there have been reports of victims” in the quake zone, but he did not have any precise details.
Italy earthquake: at least two dead as buildings collapse after 6.2 magnitude quake

Reports of two deaths and four trapped in rubble

The first reports are beginning to emerge of injuries and deaths from towns close to the epicentre of the earthquake in Italy.

Reuters is reporting that police in Pescara have said two people have died, while a number of others are trapped under rubble. Here’s the key parts of their report:

A strong earthquake brought down buildings in central Italy early on Wednesday, trapping residents and sending others fleeing into the streets, with at least six people believed killed.
The worst hit towns were believed to be Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto, Fire Department spokesman Luca Cari told Reuters, adding that helicopters would be sent up at first light to assess the damage.
The mayor of Accumoli said a number of buildings had been badly damaged.
“Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children,” Mayor Stefano Petrucci told RAI television.
RAI quoted police as saying two people were known to have died in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto.
I’ve just spoken with Helen Miller, who lives near the quake about 1.5 hours from Accumoli. The quake was clearly felt where she lives in Saint Angelo in Pontano. Here’s what she said earlier:

I am in Sant Angelo in Pontano, Le Marche where I live, about 1.5 hours from Accumoli over the mountains. The dogs have been barking since it happened. I went out to find my horses as soon as the first earthquake struck, they were wild eyed and afraid, on high-alert. The second quake happened and they took off at speed.
When the first quake struck felt as thought the house would burst and the shakes continue now. Even here people were standing in the streets, dazed, you just don’t know how close it is, what might come next. The aftershocks go on now, as they did with L’Aquila. I know it will be bad up there on the mountains and people are trapped, and animals will be trapped as shelters collapse. 
AFP are also now reporting there has been a third confirmed death. Here’s their latest report:

The first two confirmed victims were an elderly couple whose home collapsed in Pescara del Tronto in the Marche region, east of the epicentre, according to national broadcaster Rai.
Another person died and a family of four including two young children were trapped, feared dead, in their collapsed house in Accumoli, a village close to the epicentre, according to its mayor.
“We have a tragedy here,” Stefano Petrucci told Rai. “For the moment one death is confirmed but there are another four people under the rubble and they are not responding.
“It is a disaster, we have no light, no telephones, the rescue services have not got here yet.” 
 My colleague Michael Slezak has just sent through a useful explanation outlining what the US Geological Survey has assessed about the cause of the quake and extent of damage. Here’s what he sent through:

The US Geological Survey has reported the Earthquake was a result of a “normal fault”, which occurs when one plate is pushed down over another one.
In this case, the Tyrrhenian basin – the area between Sicily and Sardeninia – is expanding, pushing Eurasia towards Africa faster than the Eurasian and African plates can compress.
At the location of the Earthquake, the Eurasian plate moves northeast at about 24mm each year. Eventually the tension builds up, and is released as the plates slide over one another.
In this case, as has been reported, the first main quake was significant, being measured at magnitude 6.2.
It’s the largest there since April 2009 when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit the same region. It killed at least 295, injured over 1,000 and left 55,000 or more homeless. It resulted in significant landsliding in the local area, and was also followed by a vigorous aftershock sequence, including 5 other events of M 5.0 or larger.
And according to the US Geological Survey, the largest quake recorded in the area was the 13 January, 1915 M6.7 earthquake, which occurred 68 km to the south-southwest near Avezzano. It killed approximately 32,000 people.

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