Thursday 29 September 2016

'It was scary for the kids, but they're okay' - Irish family among thousands caught in devastating earthquake in Italy

David Kearns

Published 25/08/2016 | 07:36

In the nearby town of Amatrice, the main street in ruins Photo: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
In the nearby town of Amatrice, the main street in ruins Photo: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
A man pulled from the rubble Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli
An injured nun checks her phone Photo: Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP
A man is carried on a stretcher in the town of in Arquata del Tronto Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

An Irish family were among thousands forced from their homes following a devastating earthquake in central Italy.

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Speaking to the Herald from Rome, where many felt tremors, bar owner Michael Burns (41) said his family in the town of Amelia, 80 miles from the epicentre, had to flee their home during the night when the quake struck early yesterday.

"They had to get out of the house because it was shaking so bad. Most of the neighbours did the same," said Mr Burns, whose sons Wayne (9) and Killian (6) have Irish passports.

"They waited outside for 45 minutes wrapped in blankets before they felt it was safe to go back in again.

Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

"I got a call from my family in the morning just after the quake hit to let me know what happened.

"Later in the day, they had to get out again when the aftershocks came.

A destroyed car is seen following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
A destroyed car is seen following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
A destroyed car is seen following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Rescuers work on collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers and people stand next a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
People stand next collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Rescuers work following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
The interior of an house is seen following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A statue of the Virgin Lady stands outside a destroyed niche following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Firefighters search through rubble following an earthquake in Accumoli, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. A strong earthquake in central Italy reduced three towns to rubble as people slept early Wednesday, with reports that as many as 50 people were killed and hundreds injured as rescue crews raced to dig out survivors. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)
Rescuers prepare food and basic necessities following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers work following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
An injured person is carried away on a stretcher following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Rescuers work following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
The interior of an house is seen following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
A man leans on rubble following an earthquake in Amatrice Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. A strong earthquake in central Italy reduced three towns to rubble as people slept early Wednesday, with reports that as many as 50 people were killed and hundreds injured as rescue crews raced to dig out survivors. (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP)
Rescuers work following an earthquake at Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
People walk with their belongings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers prepare food and basic necessities in front of a partially collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH A body is carried away by rescuers following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers prepare food and basic necessities in front of a partially collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
People and rescuers stand next collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
People and rescuers stand near collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Rescuers work on a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
A rescuer stands in front of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The interior of a house is seen following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
Rescuers work at a collapsed house following an earthquake in Accumoli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
A woman stands in front of a collapsed house following an earthquake in Accumuli di Rieti, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Scherer
A man walks amidst rubble following an earthquake in Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescuers are seen working in the rubble of collapsed and damaged houses in the village of Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24 2016 following an earthquake. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (Crocchioni/ANSA via AP)
Rescuers search for survivors through rubble after an earthquake, in Accumoli, central Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. A devastating earthquake rocked central Italy early Wednesday, collapsing homes on top of residents as they slept. At least 23 people were reported dead in three hard-hit towns where rescue crews raced to dig survivors out of the rubble, but the toll was expected to rise as crews reached homes in more remote hamlets. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
A survivor looks at the collapsed buildings of the town of Pescara del Tronto, Italy, after an earthquake, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (Cristiano Chiodi/ANSA via AP)

"It was very scary for the kids, but thankfully no one was hurt."

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The Belfast man, who has lived in Italy for 21 years, added: "I've been hearing reports all day about how bad things are in Accumoli and Amatrice.

"The entire area has been left devastated.

A rescuer stands in front of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A rescuer stands in front of a collapsed building following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

"I don't even want to think about what might have happ-ened had we lived closer to the epicentre."

Mr Burns, who runs the Finnegan Irish pub in the Italian capital, said the surrounding area hit hardest by the quake was not somewhere that Irish holidaymakers would head for.

"It's well off the tourism track and I'd be very surprised to learn there were any people from Ireland living in the area," he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has received no requests for consular assistance following the quake, but staff at the Irish embassy in Rome were continuing to monitoring the situation.

People and rescuers stand near collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
People and rescuers stand near collapsed buildings following an earthquake in Amatrice, central Italy, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Last night, President Michael D Higgins sent a letter of condolences to Italian president Sergio Mattarella.

Irish citizens with concerns about the quake are asked to call 01 408 2527.

Herald

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