Saturday 3 December 2016

'Our town is finished' - Two strong earthquakes panic Italy within two hours of each other

Nicole Winfield and Colleen Barry

Published 27/10/2016 | 06:43

Residents of Ussita, central Italy prepare to spend the night in tents, early Thursday, Oct 27, 2016, following an earthquake that destroyed part of their neighborhood. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)
Residents of Ussita, central Italy prepare to spend the night in tents, early Thursday, Oct 27, 2016, following an earthquake that destroyed part of their neighborhood. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)
A view of the damaged cemetery of Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Italy, Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 following an earthquake. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)
A view of a damaged building in Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Italy, Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 following an earthquake,. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)
Debris lie next to a fountain in Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Italy, Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 following an earthquake. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)
Still image from video shows a man trying to remove rubble from a road after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv
Still image from video shows damaged building after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv
Still image from video shows cracks on the wall of a hotel after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv

Two strong aftershocks hit central Italy, destroying churches and homes and knocking out power, just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people.

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But there were no reports of serious injuries or signs of people trapped in rubble, said the head of Italy's civil protection agency, Fabrizio Curcio.

The Church of San Sebastiano stands amidst damaged houses in Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Italy, Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 following an earthquake,. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)
The Church of San Sebastiano stands amidst damaged houses in Castelsantangelo sul Nera, Italy, Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016 following an earthquake,. A pair of strong aftershocks shook central Italy late Wednesday, crumbling churches and buildings, knocking out power and sending panicked residents into the rain-drenched streets just two months after a powerful earthquake killed nearly 300 people. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi)

A handful of people were treated for slight injuries or anxiety at area hospitals in the most affected regions of Umbria and Le Marche, he said.

A 73-year-old man died of a heart attack, possibly brought on by the quakes, local authorities told the ANSA news agency.

Mr Curcio said his information was that the aftershocks had not been as "catastrophic" as they could have been.

They were aftershocks to the August 24 earthquake that struck much of central Italy, demolishing buildings in three towns and their hamlets, seismologists said.

Still image from video shows cracks on the wall of a hotel after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv
Still image from video shows cracks on the wall of a hotel after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv

Several towns this time also suffered serious damage, with homes in the epicentre of Visso spilling out into the street.

The first struck at 7:10pm local time and carried a magnitude of 5.4. But the second one was eight times stronger at 6.1, according to the US Geological Survey.

Because many residents had already left their homes with plans to spend the night in their cars or elsewhere, they were not home when the second aftershock hit two hours later, possibly saving lives, officials said.

Mayor of the town of Ussita, Marco Rinaldi, told the Daily Mail: "It was a very strong earthquake, apocalyptic. People are screaming on the street and now we are without lights.

"Many houses have collapsed. Our town is finished."

Mr Rinaldi said: "The second quake was a long, terrible one."

Still image from video shows damaged building after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv
Still image from video shows damaged building after an earthquake in Visso, Italy. Picture: REUTERS/Reuters Tv

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