Around 3:30 AM UTC (about 9:30 PM EST) on August 23, central Italy was shaken by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. For perspective, the earthquake that rocked Virginia in 2011 was a 5.8 magnitude. Nearly two days later, the death toll has risen to an estimated 247 people dead and 368 people injured. The mayor of Accumoli, one of the closest towns to the epicenter, has reported that around 2,500 people have been displaced from their homes. The population of the town of Amatrice likely swelled in recent weeks because of an upcoming festival celebrating their local specialty: spaghetti all’amatriciana.
Though the tremors were felt as far away as Rome, the focus of the damage appears to be in small towns in central Italy: Accumoli, Amatrice, and Pescara del Tronto. USA Today described the once beautiful towns as being ‘medieval.’ Most of the buildings destroyed were likely hundreds of years old; even if they were rebuilt, they would not hold the historical significance that they once did. The mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, said of the damage, “Half the town doesn’t exist anymore.” Amatrice has also reportedly lost all power.
In the days afterwards, there have been numerous aftershocks, toppling over more homes and buildings and trapping more people underneath. About seventeen hours after the initial quake, a ten year old–whose name has been reported as either Giorgia or Giulia–was pulled from the wreckage, the rescuers and firefighters hushing everyone to hear her voice below. In Pescara del Tronto, an injured dog was rescued from the rubble. In the same town, six year old Leone and four year old Samuel were saved by their grandmother who protected them with her body. She also survived with many fractures but is currently being treated in the hospital. Sister Mariana of Amatrice tried to protect herself under a table with some other nuns but eventually chose to run before the convent crumbled to the ground.
Earthquakes in Italy are not entirely uncommon, especially in the Apennine mountains. Most are smaller quakes with less than forty casualties, but this has been the fourth earthquake in the twenty first century. This has also been largest earthquake in Italy since 2009, when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed 295 people. A Polish geologist has said that the quake was a release of pressure caused by the African Plate steadily moving northwards into the European Plate. Amatrice and Accumoli even lie on a fault line running through the mountains.
Story by Madison Lazenby
Edited by Mrs. Carmichael
Information taken from: