At least 21 killed and many more feared dead after ‘apocalyptic’ 6.2 earthquake flattens buildings in central Italy as shocked mayor says ‘my town has been wiped out’
AT least 21 people have been killed and many more are feared dead after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Italy.
One eight-month-old baby, his nine year-old brother and parents are feared to have been among the dead after being buried by rubble as they slept.
Dozens of buildings collapsed in the town of Amatrice – near the popular tourist city of Perugia – trapping scores of locals in the debris.
Rescuers have reported hearing the voices of those trapped beneath the rubble as the local mayor declared: “My town isn’t here anymore.”
The quake was so strong it could be felt in Rome – 100 miles away.
Buildings in the Italian capital shook for 20 seconds, according to La Repubblica.
The epicentre was in the Umbrian town of Norcia with the town of Accumoli also badly affected.
Aleandro Petrucci, the mayor of nearby Arquata, said: “It’s a disaster.
“We are trying to evacuate the village and move them to a sports field. I’ve just arrived and I feel like crying.
“I’ve never seen such an apocalyptic scene except for the L’Aquila earthquake on television.”
Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi told RAI: “Three quarters of the town is not there anymore.
“The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there.”
Brit Tourists reported feeling the tremors as far as Rome, with a number taking to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Sarah Conrad said: “Pretty sure I was just woken up by an earthquake in Rome.
“I thought someone snuck into my hotel room & was jumping on the bed. Both scary!”
Paul O’Halloran, also in Rome, added: “Just got woke up by an earthquake! Bed and window shutters moving!”
Brit Emma Tucker, who was in the area at the time, said: “It was pitch dark, very cold. Nobody in our group had a clue what to do in an earthquake.”
Renata Moriono told the Guardian: “I am on holiday in my home village in the Marche region, a few kilometres away from Amatrice and the epicentre. I felt a very strong shaking at about 3am … It went on for ages – then again about 1/2 hour or 45 min later. It was like 1997. Terrifying.”
It is thought the epicentre of the quake was about 4km beneath Accumoli (Rieti), which is now almost inaccessible.
Local media suggests it struck at around 3.30am.
The first victims emerged as an elderly couple in Pescara del Tronto, in the Marche region, ten miles from the epicentre.
A family of four were also reportedly dead in Accumoli – four miles from the source of the quake, which struck at 3.30am local time.
Tremors also destroyed homes in Amatrice, where dozens more are feared dead.
The town’s mayor Sergio Pirozzi said: “Half the town is gone.”
He added: “There are people under the rubble… There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse.”
Tommaso della Longa, a spokesman for the Red Cross, said a grim scene is emerging from Amatrice this morning.
He said: “The picture we got from our delegate in Amatrice are telling us a terrible story of a small city almost completely destroyed,” he said.
“The situation is difficult at the moment.
The British Foreign Office updated its advice for anyone stuck in the affected area.
It said on its website: “An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 struck Central Italy during the early hours of 24 August. The earthquake was also felt in Rome.
“If you are in the affected area, you should follow the advice of the local authorities. If you are in Italy, Civil Protection have activated a hotline 800840840 for information.
“To learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake visit the Protezione Civile website.”
Data from previous quakes suggest the damage could be significant, according to the USGS.
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
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