Powerful quakes wreak havoc in Italian towns

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Rome—Historic buildings in central Italy have been badly damaged by two strong earthquakes that forced hundreds of residents out of their homes.
It was “miraculous” no deaths had been reported, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said. Dozens of people were treated for shock or light injuries.
Rescue teams have been struggling to reach some areas but officials say the situation is not “catastrophic”.
A quake rocked the same region in August, killing at least 298 people. Wednesday evening’s 5.5-magnitude quake struck near Visso in Macerata province, followed by a 6.1 magnitude tremor in the same area two hours later.
The first tremor sent people running out of their houses, potentially saving lives when the second stronger quake struck. Numerous smaller aftershocks followed.
Many houses have been badly damaged, forcing out hundreds of residents, who spent the night in cars and emergency shelters. Temporary shelter was being offered to people whose homes were at risk.
The quakes were felt across central Italy, including in the capital, Rome, where buildings shook and doors and windows rattled. The mayor of Ussita, 5km (3 miles) west of Visso, told Sky Italia: “Many houses have collapsed. Our town is finished.”
In Visso itself, Mayor Giuliano Pazzaglini said about two-thirds of buildings were unsafe and there was a shortage of drinking water and adequate sanitation. He said most of the buildings damaged had already been weakened by the 24 August earthquake.
Police were reported to be restricting access to Visso’s historic centre after the quake brought boulders down on to nearby roads. The town of Camerino is also thought to have been badly damaged.
In Campo, near Norcia in the Umbria region, the 15th-Century San Salvatore church collapsed. It had been weakened by the earthquake in August. But Italy’s civil defence chief, Fabrizio Curcio, said the situation was not “as catastrophic as might have been expected” despite the problems caused by boulders.—Agencies

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