Italy Earthquake brings Historic Buildings Crashing Down

A magnitude-6.0 quake struck in the middle of the night, about 35km (22 miles) north of the Italian city of Bologna. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake at a relatively shallow depth of 10km  (6.2 miles) just after 04:00 am local time (02:00 GMT). Later on Sunday, a magnitude 5.1 aftershock hit the region, causing more buildings to collapse.  The earthquake has killed at least seven and injured more than 50 people.

The epicenter of the quake, north of Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region, was felt across northern Italy, including the cities of Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Rovigo, Verona and Mantua and as far away as Milan and Venice.  The earthquake and aftershocks reduced historic churches and castle towers to rubble and forced many terrified residents into the streets.

The BBC reported the following eyewitness accounts: “I was woken at around 04:00 by the quake, it was strong and lasted up to a minute, maybe more,” Frankie Thompson, a UK travel journalist in Bologna, told the BBC.   “Church bells were set off spontaneously… followed by an eerie silence. Small aftershocks kept coming and going until maybe 05:50 when a stronger tremor shook us again but not as long and dramatic as the first,” she added.

Britain’s David Trew, who is staying in a hotel in Ferrara, told the BBC: “I was sound asleep when the tremors started. I was having quite a vivid dream, and the first few seconds of the quake became part of the dream.  “As I began to wake up it took me a few seconds to realize that it was actually happening for real. I fumbled around in the darkness, now very scared. The room was shaking violently, plaster was dropping off the ceiling into my hair and all over the floor.”

The search for survivors continues as aftershocks rattle residents. The last major earthquake to hit Italy was a 6.3 magnitude quake in the central Italian city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing nearly 300 people.

May 20 2012 02:37 pm | Earthquakes and Natural Disasters

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