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Powerful quake brings central Italy 'to its knees'

02 November 2016 08:03

Fortunately, there were no fatalities during Italy's strongest earthquake in 36 years

Fortunately, there were no fatalities during Italy's strongest earthquake in 36 years

Thousands of people have spent the evening in temporary shelters, cars and tents after Italy was rocked by another powerful earthquake.

Fortunately, no-one appears to have died in the quake that happened 125km north east of Rome on Sunday, although an estimated 20 people have been injured.

Series of earthquakes have hit the region

This is the latest in a series of earthquakes and the strongest to strike the country in nearly 36 years, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6. A deadly quake in August near to the same area killed almost 300 people.

Officials say three people were dug out of the rubble alive in the town of Tolentino and the town's mayor Giuseppe Pezzanesi said: "These earthquakes are bringing all of central Italy to its knees."

Residents rushed into the streets after being roused from bed early on Sunday by the tremors. Movement was felt as far north as Salzburg, Austria, and all the way down the Italian peninsula to the Puglia region. Aftershocks continued to be felt until the early hours of Monday,

Despite the scale of the earthquake, Fabrizio Curcio, head of the civil protection agency, says there is no indication that anyone is missing or buried under rubble.

Area will be rebuilt

Closest to the epicentre was the ancient city of Norcia, famed for its Benedictine monastery and for the birthplace of St. Benedict, the father of Western monasticism. Witnesses said the 14th century St Benedict Cathedral collapsed in the quake, with only the facade still standing.

"It's as if the whole city fell down," Norcia City Assessor Giuseppina Perla told the ANSA news agency. The city's ancient walls sustained damage, as did another famous Norcia church, St Mary Argentea, known for its 15th century frescoes.

Premier Matteo Renzi pledged that wrecked homes, churches and businesses would rise again, saying they are part of Italy's national identity. The government last week earmarked 40 million euros (£36m) for rebuilding.

"We will rebuild everything," Mr Renzi said. "We are dealing with marvellous territories, territories of beauty."

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office is instructing people to take out comprehensive travel insurance before travelling to the country.