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◆2016/08/24 CNN Earthquake in Italy: Live updates
◆2016/08/24 USA Today Earthquake in Italy: What we know
◆2016/08/24 BBC News Italy earthquake: Death toll rises to at least 159
◆2016/08/24 The Washington Post Why the earthquake in Italy was so destructive
◆2016/08/25 CNN At least 247 killed in earthquake in central Italy
◆2016/08/25 The Telegraph Earthquake in Italy: Everything we know on Thursday afternoon
A magnitude-6.2 earthquake hit central Italy early Wednesday and rescuers are searching for survivors.
・At least 159 people have died, according to ANSA, Italy's national news agency
・Rescuers struggle to reach some remote towns
・Amatrice, town at epicenter, "is no more" says mayor
・Witness: We woke up shaking side to side in bed
Are you in Italy? Are you affected by the earthquake? If it's safe for you to do so, WhatsApp us on +44 7435 939 154 to share your photos, experiences and video. Please tag #CNNiReport in your message.
Earthquake in Italy: Live updates
At least 247 people were killed and hundreds more were injured Wednesday after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake and a series of aftershocks struck several towns in central Italy, Italian authorities said.
Here's what we know:
When did this happen?
The 6.2. magnitude earthquake struck central Italy, near Rieti, shortly after 3:30 a.m. local time Wednesday and was followed by several aftershocks.
What areas were hardest-hit?
The hardest-hit towns were Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, about 80 miles northeast of Rome, with the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Marche feeling the worst effects too.
“Half of the town doesn’t exist anymore,” Sergio Perozzi, mayor of Amatrice, told Italian television.
How many people were killed?
At least 247 people are dead and hundreds more are injured.
There was no immediate breakdown of the death toll, but the Italian news agency ANSA reported at least 35 dead in Amatrice, 11 in Accumoli, near Rieti, and 17 in the province of Ascoli Piceno, which includes Pescara del Tronto. Renzi reported 35 dead in Le Marche.
Some homes collapsed on residents as they slept. With people trapped in the the rubble the death toll is likely to rise. Rescue crews are racing to dig out survivors in remote areas. Police near the town of Ascoli said they could hear cries for help from under the rubble but lack the heavy equipment to move the rocks, according the RAI radio.
Were there aftershocks?
The Italian earthquake institute (INGV) reported 60 aftershocks in the four hours following the first quake, the strongest at 5.5.
Are earthquakes common in the area?
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the same region killed more than 300 people. Fabrizio Curcio, the head of Italy's civil protection agency, said the quake was on par with the L'Aquilla quake.
Since Italy sits on two fault lines, it has gained a reputation as one of the most earthquake-prone countries in Europe.
Myanmar experienced an earthquake on Wednesday, too. Were they related?
No. U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellinni said the two quakes were in two different seismic zones. A 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Myanmar, over 5,000 miles away from Italy, and killed at least 3 people.
Bellinni added that it is not that unusual to have two quakes of at least 6-magnitude on the same day.
What should U.S. travelers do?
The U.S. Embassy has restricted all but essential official travel to the area and recommends that U.S. citizens defer travel in these areas as well.
Earthquake in Italy: What we know
At least 159 people have been killed and 368 injured in an earthquake that hit a mountainous area of central Italy, civil protection officials say.
The magnitude-6.2 quake struck at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome, not far from Perugia.
At least 86 of the dead were in the historic town of Amatrice, where the mayor said three-quarters of the town was destroyed, and in nearby Accumoli.
Many people are still believed to be buried under rubble.
Rescue teams are using heavy lifting equipment and their bare hands and authorities said the search for survivors would continue through the night.
There were cheers in the village of Pescara del Tronto when an eight-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours.
Earlier, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned the toll could rise as he visited the area.
He had previously paid tribute to the volunteers and civil defence officials who rushed to the scene in the middle of the night and used their bare hands to dig for survivors.
He promised "no family, no city, no hamlet will be left behind".
・Confusion and shock: Witnesses give their accounts
・In pictures: before and after
・Quakes 'ever present' for Italy's Apennines
・History of deadly earthquakes
・Can quakes be predicted?
The tremor was felt across Italy, from Bologna in the north to Naples in the south. There have been dozens of aftershocks.
As well as the 86 dead in the two towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, 34 people are known to have been killed in Le Marche province, including in the neighbouring villages of Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto.
・Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said there were many children among the dead
・In Amatrice the missing include three nuns and four guests at their convent
・In Accumoli the dead include a mother, father and their two young sons; rescuers had heard the screams of the mother and one of the children and had frantically tried to reach them in time, Italian media reported
・Mayor Stefano Petrucci told Ansa that not a house in the town was fit for habitation, and they would have to set up tents to house everyone
・Almost all houses in Pescara del Tronto have collapsed, the local mayor said
・In Arquata, a grandmother saved her two grandchildren, aged four and seven, by pulling them under a bed with her
Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said it had recorded more than 200 aftershocks by 15:00 (13:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
The country is no stranger to earthquakes: in 2009 a tremor killed more than 300 people in L'Aquila and in May 2012 two tremors nine days apart killed more than 20 people in the northern Emilia Romagna region.
Rescue teams from around the country have been sent to the affected region.
The area is mountainous and access is difficult. Tent camps are being set up for those who need shelter, while others will be accommodated in buildings such as gymnasiums.
The national blood donation service has appealed for donors to come forward.
Many of the people affected were on holiday in the region. Some were in Amatrice for a festival to celebrate a famous local speciality - amatriciana bacon and tomato sauce.
Why is Italy at risk of earthquakes? By Jonathan Amos
Earthquakes are an ever-present danger for those who live along the Apennine mountain range in Italy.
Through the centuries thousands have died as a result of tremors equal to, or not much bigger than, the event that struck in the early hours of Wednesday. The modern response, thankfully, has been more robust building and better preparation.
Mediterranean seismicity is driven by the great collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates; but when it comes down to the specifics of this latest quake, the details are far more complicated.
The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of Italy, between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up.
Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or "pull-apart", along the Apennines. This stress is compounded by movement in the east, in the Adriatic.
The result is a major fault system that runs the length of the mountain range with a series of smaller faults that fan off to the sides. The foundations of cities like Perugia and L'Aquila stand on top of it all.
Italy earthquake: Death toll rises to at least 159
The earth beneath Italy's Apennine Range ? where a magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck early Wednesday ? is a tangle of fault lines and fractured rock.
The mountains, which run the length of Italy like the zipper on a boot, were formed about 20 million years ago as the African plate plowed into Eurasia, crumpling crust like a carpet. Now things are moving in the opposite direction. The crust on the northern side of the range is pulling away from the south at a rate of three millimeters per year, causing the earth to shudder along the spider web of minor fault lines that run beneath the surface.
That, in part, explains why Italy is so earthquake-prone, and why Wednesday's temblor was so destructive. At least 241 people were killed and dozens injured. The town of Amatrice, near the epicenter, was almost entirely reduced to rubble. Thousands of people were left homeless.
"Things are shifting around in complicated ways," said Susan Hough, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "There's faults all along the Apennines that are fairly fragmented. They're capable of producing moderate and even large earthquakes, and it's kind of like throwing darts at a dart board ? they just hit at different places over time."
[Italian quake death toll rises to 241, anguish mounts]
Seven years ago, the target was L'Aquila, a city about 30 miles south of Amatrice. That earthquake killed more than 300. A century ago, it was Avezzano, where about 30,000 people died. Medieval Italians wrote of temblors that shook the mountain ranges and set church bells ringing as far away as Rome.
Earthquakes in this region are modest in magnitude ? hundreds of 6.2 quakes happen around the world every year. Within hours of the Italian quake, a 6.8-magnitude temblor hit Burma. But that earthquake was much deeper, which means it was less destructive. According to Reuters, relatively few buildings collapsed, though three people were killed, including two children.
By contrast, quakes like those that hit L'Aquila and Amatrice were centered just below the surface.
"With deeper earthquakes, the waves have to travel farther, so we can have quite deep earthquakes that are not so damaging," Hough said. "But if it’s shallow, the energy released is quite close to the surface, so that’s an immediate punch."
[What do those earthquake numbers mean, anyway?]
Just as important as what the earth does, added seismologist Leonardo Seeber, is "what humans build on top of it."
Seeber, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, was born in Florence and has studied the tectonic activity of the Apennine region for more than 35 years.
"Italy is an old country, and the houses are made of stone," he said. Closely packed medieval buildings, constructed before the emergence of things such as building codes and reinforced concrete, are vulnerable to shaking and much more dangerous when they collapse.
He compared the Italian temblor to the 2011 Virginia earthquake that shook the D.C. region exactly five years ago on Aug. 23. That quake measured a 5.8 on the Richter scale and was similarly shallow. But it happened in a more sparsely populated region, where most homes had resilient wooden frames. Not a single person died in that quake, and the property damage was relatively modest.
"It's tragic because these towns are like jewels," Seeber said of Amatrice and other hard-hit areas; they are centuries-old time capsules nestled in the mountains.
Their beauty is part of what makes them vulnerable. Italy got its gorgeous natural resources ? craggy mountains, fertile soil, crystalline rivers ? because of its tectonic activity. The collisions of plates and explosions of volcanoes account for some of what's best about Italy, Seeber said.
"As a seismologist, very often people ask me, 'I’m afraid of earthquakes, where should I go?'" he said. "And I tell them, 'You can go in the center of these plates, but you wouldn’t necessarily like it there."
This post has been updated to reflect the rising death toll of the quake.
Why the earthquake in Italy was so destructive
Saletta, Italy (CNN) - [Breaking news update, posted at 12:30 a.m. ET on August 25]
At least 247 people were killed after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy Wednesday, according to Italy's Civil Protection Department.
[Previous story, posted at 10:16 p.m. ET on August 24]
In the small Italian towns hit hard by a magnitude-6.2 earthquake that struck in the middle of the night, rescuers feverishly dug through the rubble of downed homes and apartments looking for survivors.
In one such rescue, shown on CNN affiliate Sky TG24, a firefighter in Amatrice clawed at the rubble, trying to get to a little girl.
He pulled back bricks and other debris as his co-workers and other men leaned in.
Suddenly there was a foot, and leg, then the other leg.
In the video, a man seems to be talking to the girl, as someone repeatedly says the name "Julia."
Several people wriggle in to help the firefighter.
The firefighter clutches a girl, said to be 8 years old, and walks her out of the huge pile of rubble as a volley of cheers erupts.
The girl silently holds on. It is impossible to tell what color clothes she is wearing because she is coated in gray dust.
"Bella ragazza!" one bystander says as the girl is carried to safety. "Beautiful girl!"
Similar scenes played out in Amatrice and the other towns hit hardest by the deadly quake, which killed at least 159 people, according to ANSA, Italy's national news agency.
The powerful earthquake hit 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southeast of Norcia at 3:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. Tuesday ET).
Italy's Civil Protection agency said of the people killed in the quake, at least 53 of them were in the town of Amatrice, and at least 100 people were injured. Other fatalities were reported in the nearby towns of Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto.
More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the quake, and the Civil Protection agency said no residents will be allowed to sleep in the devastated town of Amatrice Wednesday night.
"Right now we feel terrible pain," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said after touring some of the affected areas. "Italy is a family that has been hit and struck, but we are not going to be stopped."
Addressing the nation Wednesday, Renzi vowed to spare no effort in the critical window following the quake when lives could still be saved.
"In difficult times, Italy knows what to do," he said.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescue teams work through the rubble, with regular aftershocks posing a continuing threat.
In the village of Saletta, a settlement of about 20 people, residents used their bare hands to ferret through the rubble of a two-story home in a desperate search for neighbors.
CNN's Barbie Nadeau and her crew escaped injury when a home collapsed behind her in Saletta as she did a Facebook Live session.
Rescue efforts continued through the night, said Luigi D'Angelo, an official with Italy's Civil Protection Department.
"Many cases have shown in the past that even after two days people can be rescued alive," he said. "So we want to continue."
With heavy lifting equipment just starting to reach the isolated village, people used tractors, farm equipment and simple hand tools to break through what was left of old stone villas.
Many settlements are only accessible by small roads, posing a challenge for authorities moving in heavy machinery to the disaster sites.
On a roadside, stunned residents in dust-covered pajamas sought comfort after every aftershock.
Emma Tucker, deputy editor of British newspaper The Times, was in Italy's Marche region, about 85 kilometers from the epicenter, when her house started "trembling, shaking ... an absolutely appalling noise."
"It felt like someone had put a bulldozer over the house and was trying to knock it down," she told CNN.
The powerful jolt was felt as far away as Rome, 100 miles from the epicenter.
"It lasted for at least 30 seconds. The entire hotel was shaking," said Charlotte Smith, coach of Elon University women's basketball team in North Carolina, who was in Rome with her players when the quake hit.
"It was pretty terrifying," she said.
The university released a statement later, saying the team was headed back to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Amatrice 'is no more,' says mayor
The towns at the epicenter of the quake -- Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto -- are scenes of devastation, with what were once charming three-story buildings pancaked by the disaster.
Much of the houses in the area -- unreinforced brick or concrete frame buildings -- were vulnerable to earthquakes, according to the US Geological Survey, and offered little resistance to the powerful temblor.
Amatrice, a town of about 2,000 people in the north of Italy's Lazio region, is in ruins. But amid the rubble, the town's clock tower stood tall, with the clock stopped at the time the quake struck.
"The town is no more," Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told CNN affiliate Rai.
The towns, situated amid remote, mountainous terrain, are particularly popular in the summer with tourists seeking a scenic getaway from the heat of the city.
Red Cross spokesman Tommaso della Longa said the fluctuating population during the vacation season made it hard to know exactly how many people might be trapped in the debris.
Amatrice, known for its traditional all'amatriciana pasta sauce, had been gearing up to hold a festival celebrating the pork jowl, chili and pecorino recipe this weekend, with many visitors expected.
Pope calls for prayers
Pope Francis called for prayers for those affected by the disaster while Italian President Sergio Mattarella said "the entire country should rally with solidarity around the affected populations."
"At the moment we need to employ all our forces to save human lives, treat the injured and ensure the best conditions for the people displaced," he said.
President Barack Obama called Mattarella on Wednesday to offer US assistance.
The leaders of France, Germany and Russia all expressed their sympathy over the disaster, while the Italian Voluntary Blood Association made an appeal for people to donate blood to help treat those affected.
Italy is no stranger to deadly quakes.
In May 2012, a pair of earthquakes killed dozens of people in northern Italy, while in April 2009, a magnitude-6.3 earthquake hit in the Aquila region of central Italy, killing 295. The earthquake Wednesday struck an area close to the 2009 earthquake.
Are you in Italy? Are you affected by the earthquake? If it's safe for you to do so, WhatsApp us on +44 7435 939 154 to share your photos, experiences and video. Please tag #CNNiReport in your message.
At least 247 killed in earthquake in central Italy
The powerful earthquake ripped through central Italy on Wednesday, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless.
The 6.2 magnitude earthquake has killed at least 241 people, the country's civil protection agency said on Thursday morning after rescue efforts continued through the night.
The search for bodies "won't slow down," civil protection head Fabrizio Curcio said.
Matteo Renzi, the Italian Prime Minister, had previously said at least 120 people have been killed with countless others injured and many still missing.
"This is not a final toll," Mr Renzi said after visiting rescue workers at the centre of the earthquake zone in central Italy. The death toll has steadily risen throughout the day. Earlier on Wednesday, it was put at 73 before rising to 120 a few hours later.
Entire villages have been flattened, while larger towns such as Amatrice have been seriously damaged.
Rescue workers were initially forced to dig through the rubble with their bare hands due to difficulties transporting equipment to the mountainous region.
When did it happen'?
The tremors began at around 3.30am on Wednesday morning, followed by a devastating 6.2 magnitude earthquake.
Many were killed almost instantly as their houses collapsed on top of them. Others were eventually rescued some hours later after they were found in the rubble by rescue workers.
Which areas are affected?
The towns of Amatrice and Accumoli, about 65 miles northeast of Rome, were the worst-affected areas. At least 35 people were killed in Amatrice alone, but nearby hamlets and villages were also heavily damaged.
Why is Italy vulnerable to earthquakes?
Many parts of Italy - including the central region hit by Wednesday's quake - lie on a major seismic fault line.
According to the Foreign Office, tremors and earthquakes "are almost a daily occurrence."
They are also caused by movements in the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, which are in conflict with each other.
It is not the first major earthquake to devastate Italy - in 2009 more than 300 people were killed in L'Aquila, close to the area of Wednesday's earthquake.
What is the government doing?
Mr Renzi has offered his full support to rescue workers in the region and has already thanked them for their efforts in pulling survivors out of the rubble.
He visited several rescuers and victims on Wednesday afternoon.
The Pope has also expressed his solidarity with the victims and dispatched six firefighters from the Vatican's tiny fire brigade to assist in the rescue effort.
"Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that the town no longer exists and hearing that there are children among the victims, I am deeply saddened," the Pope told thousands gathered in St Peter's Square earlier.
He has cancelled a speech he was due to give at his daily audience and is instead praying with a crowd for victims of the disaster.
Francois Hollande, the French Prime Minister, said: "The earthquake in Italy is a terrible tragedy. I offer my solidarity to the people of Italy and to Mr Renzi."
Vladimir Putin sent a telegram of condolences to Mr Renzi, and said Russia would provide "any necessary" assistance.
Angela Merkel said Germany "will be ready to do everything we can to help Italy if needed, and our thoughts are with the people of the region today."
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, offered his condolences to Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni for "the loss of life and devastation" and also offered any assistance required.
Earthquake in Italy: Everything we know on Thursday afternoon