Italian quake: 250 casualties, four towns, and a race against time

MASSIMO PERCOSSI

Rubble of a building collapsed in Amatrice, central Italy, where a earthquake struck just after 3:30 a.m. in Amatrice, Italy, 24 August 2016. The quake was felt across a broad section of central Italy, in Umbria, Lazio and Marche Regions, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic center felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. According to reports more than 100 people died in the quake.

Italian quake: 250 casualties, four towns, and a race against time


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There are 250 confirmed victims and 365 wounded from Italy’s 6,2 magnitude quake in Italy on Wednesday.

The toll

The quake flattened the town of Amatrice, with the population of 2,500 people.

The town was preparing for a famous food festival this weekend and many tourists were on site.

Among the casualties confirmed on Thursday, there were three Britons, five Romanians, one Spaniard, one Canadian, and an El Salvador citizen.

The toll is likely to rise in Amatrice, where the bulk of the victims have been recovered. The mountainous regions of Lazio and Marche 140 km east of Rome are devastated, with Umbria also taking some of the toll.

Besides Amatrice, other badly hit towns include Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto,and Accumoli.

The proximity to Rome means many have a second home in these former museum cities that are now reduced to rubble.

Journalists were advised to leave Amatrice, which is crumbling. Pescara di Tronto is also flattened.

With housing deemed unsafe, many people are sleeping outside or in their cars and in tents.

Race against time

This is a race against time, with sniffer dogs and emergency workers clearing debris to save people. 5,000 police officers, firefighters, army troops, and volunteers are involved in the operation.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was on site on Thursday to offer encouragement and condolences.

There is little doubt the casualties count will be rising on Friday, to exceed the 300 people who died in the previous major L’ Acquila quake of 2009. But, as the firefighters’ spokesman Luca Cari recalled, survivors were recovered even 72 hours after the 2009 quake. With each hour, hope dims, but the search continues.

epa05509360 Firefighters at work looking for survivors  inside the rubble of collapsed building in Amatrice, Italy, 25 August 2016. The provisional death toll from Wednesday's earthquake in central Italy has risen to 247, the civil protection agency said Thursday, 25 August.  EPA/FLAVIO LO SCALZO

Firefighters at work looking for survivors inside the rubble of collapsed building in Amatrice, Italy, 25 August 2016. The provisional death toll from Wednesday’s earthquake in central Italy has risen to 247, the civil protection agency said Thursday, 25 August. EPA/FLAVIO LO SCALZO

(AFP, BBC, Reuters, The Local)

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