A 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Marche region in central Italy, just hours after a 5.4-magnitude temblor damaged buildings and cut power lines across the area. Buildings across the region have been damaged, but so far, there have been no reports of fatalities.
The latest earthquake occurred 71 km east of Perugia, with United States Geological Survey reporting it as a 6.0-magnitude temblor, and Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology saying it was 5.9-magnitude.
The first earthquake was detected at 7:11pm local time, about 66km to the southeast of Perugia, striking a mountainous part of the Marche region and lasting several seconds.The exact epicenter of the tremblor remains unclear, but it was relatively shallow, at about 9km below ground.
Within an hour of the first earthquake, there was a series of small but noticeable aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 2.5 to 2.8.
“We’re in the square, all the lights are out, we can’t see, we’re counting each other to see who’s here, we still don’t know how bad the situation is,” Mauro Falcucci, mayor of Castelsantangelo sul Nera, the small commune closest to the epicenter, told Sky News by phone. “The situation is delicate. It is important to remain calm.”
The official said that the emergency is exacerbated by a downpour, and intermittent problems with mobile phone communication.
“It was a very strong, apocalyptic earthquake – people were screaming in the street, and now the lights are cut off,” said Marco Rinaldi, the mayor of Ussita, a community of 400 that was also affected by the initial earthquake.
A video posted by a Huffington Post journalist shows rubble strewn through the streets of Visso, a commune less than 10 km from the epicenter.
The Civil Protection agency, the centralized service which is receiving infromation from dozens of tiny settlements scattered across the area, say that older buildings have been damaged, or collapsed entirely, but that no injuries have been reported.
Eyewitnesses also reported a powerful tremor in the capital on the western side of the country, more than 150 km away, saying that centuries-old buildings were shaking.
The earthquakes are in the same area of seismic instability in the Apennines as the one that struck the village of Amatrice this summer, killing almost 300 people. The strongest earthquake there was 6.2-magnitude on August 24.
Seismologists now fear a multiplier effect from the increased disruption resulting from the twin natural disasters.
“The earthquake today has further disrupted the tectonic plates, and in the coming hours we may see aftershocks of today’s earthquake on top of those from August 24,” Salvatore Mazza, the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology told RAI News24.
«This earthquake is likely the activation of a new fault line, connected to August’s calamity. But we need to get closer to the epicenter, before drawing conclusions,» said Paulo Messina, for the Institute of Environmental Geology and Geoengineering of the Italian National Research Council.