SHAFAQNA – A mighty earthquake has hit central Italy, shaking buildings as far away as Rome. Reports on the magnitude varied from 6.5 to 7.1. This comes only three days after two more tremors shook the region on Wednesday, leaving villages partly destroyed.
At the moment, USGS’s website puts the magnitude at 6.6.
Initial reports on the magnitude of the tremors varied – while USGS and Italian media first talked of a 7.1 earthquake, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said the tremor was magnitude 6.5 or 6.6.
Italy Civil Protection reports buildings collapsing in a number of locations following Sunday’s tremors. They did not provide any information regarding casualties.
Local RAI TV reports that the tremor was powerful enough to wake the residents of the capital Rome, who reported walls of buildings shaking.
While according to RAI Radio, at least two buildings collapsed in Norcia – the Basilica di San Benedetto and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Argentea.
Local media also reported destruction at the Church of Saint Augustine in Amatrice, which lost its bell tower.
According to the mayor of Ussita, a commune in the Marche district with around 450 inhabitants, 90 percent of the buildings in the area were brought down by the quake.
Emergency services across the region are currently checking the destroyed buildings for casualties, civil protection authorities said.
Aftershocks with magnitudes of up to 4.5 still reportedly rock the area.
The USGS says the quake was centered 6 km (3.7 miles) north of Norcia, a town in the province of Perugia. The epicenter lay some 10 kilometers deep. Norcia is home to some 5,000 people.
Italians who live in the areas affected by the quake rushed to the web, posting videos of shaking furniture inside their homes.
According to those on Twitter, tremors were felt in Perugia, Rimini, Abruzzo, Naples and Rome, where the circulation of the metro-system was reportedly suspended on lines A and B.
Italy’s National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks (CGR) cautioned Friday that more powerful earthquakes could hit the region in the nearest future, identifying at least three areas at risk for further seismic activity.
“There is no current evidence that the (seismic) sequence underway is coming to an end,” the commission warned.
This week’s quakes come mere two months after almost 300 people were killed in the region by a quake that levelled several small towns.