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Italy earthquakes: Bad weather hampers rescue efforts

Posted on 27th October 2016 at 13:09pm

Bad weather has been hampering rescue efforts in central Italy after two strong earthquakes damaged buildings and injured dozens of people.

Hundreds of residents spent the night in cars and emergency shelters after Wednesday's quakes, but officials said the situation was not "catastrophic".

No deaths have been reported. Historic buildings have collapsed, and one mayor said his town was "finished".

A quake rocked the same region in August, killing at least 298 people.

Wednesday evening's 5.5-magnitude quake struck near Visso in Macerata province, followed by a 6.1 magnitude tremor in the same area. The quakes were felt across central Italy, including in the capital, Rome, where buildings shook and doors and windows rattled. The first tremor sent people running out of their houses, potentially saving lives when the second stronger quake struck. Numerous smaller aftershocks have been recorded.

Several people were treated for light injuries or shock, Italy's civil protection chief Fabrizio Curcio said. "Ultimately, the situation is not as catastrophic as might have been expected," he said. Areas close to the epicentre reported blackouts and widespread damage. The mayor of Ussita, 5km (3 miles) west of Visso, told Sky Italia: "Many houses have collapsed. Our town is finished." The town of Camerino is also thought to have been badly damaged.

In Campo, near Norcia in the Umbria region, the 15th-Century San Salvatore church collapsed. It had been weakened by the earthquake in August.

Anxious residents, by Julian Miglierini, BBC News, Ussita: The light of day after a night of torrential rain has allowed emergency workers here to get a better picture of the damage. The scenes in the affected areas are nothing like the devastation we saw in the town of Amatrice just over two months ago. That also explains the lack of casualties after the two strong tremors. Locals here are worried, however, that the damage to tourist attractions in the area, like some centuries old churches, may badly affect the coming winter tourist season. And the series of strong aftershocks overnight is making people anxious here.

As teams worked through the night, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi tweeted: "I want to thank those working in the rain in the earthquake zones. All of Italy is wrapping its arms around the communities that have been hit once again."

Visso is 70km (45 miles) from Amatrice, which was badly damaged in the 6.2 magnitude quake in August.

These tremors were linked to the quake of two months ago, Italian officials said. "Aftershocks can last for a long time, sometimes for months," AFP news agency quoted Mario Tozzi of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics as saying.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2016 BBC

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