- 6.2 earthquake strikes central Italy
- At least 73 people reported dead
- Family of four feared dead under rubble
- At least half the town is gone, mayor says
- Amatrice mayor says people trapped under rubble
- Rescue teams struggling to reach damaged areas
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has struck central Italy, leaving at least six people dead and others trapped under rubble, the town of Amatrice was among the locations to sustains serious damage.
The quake struck in the early hours of the morning when most people were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of towns and villages some 170 km (105 miles) east of Rome. Residents were sifting through the rubble with their bare hands before emergency services arrived with earth-moving equipment and sniffer dogs.
Police said two people were known to have died in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto. Some 100 people were still unaccounted for in the village of Arquata del Tronto and two bodies were removed from the debris in Amatrice.
“Three quarters of the town is not there anymore,” Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi told state broadcaster RAI. “The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there.”
The U.S. Geological Survey, which measured the quake at 6.2 magnitude, said it struck near the Umbrian city of Norcia, while Italy’s earthquake institute INGV registered it at 6.0 and put the epicentre closer to Accumoli and Amatrice, the two towns that appeared to be hardest hit.
The damage was made more severe because the epicentre was at a relatively shallow 4 km below the surface of the earth.
Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.
The last major earthquake to hit the country struck the central city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing more than 300 people.
The most deadly since the start of the 20th century came in 1908, when an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people in the southern regions of Reggio Calabria and Sicily.