Italy trembles: Over 200 aftershocks follow devastating earthquake (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
The danger of a major new jolt remains in Italy, as over 200 aftershocks were registered following a devastating 6.6 magnitude earthquake in central regions of the country.
Sunday’s earthquake in central Italy was followed by numerous aftershocks, 15 of which had a magnitude ranging from 4.0 to 4.6, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV).
“Unfortunately, we’re unable to predict in which order the other jolts will occur. Theoretically speaking, though, we cannot rule out that other earthquakes of the same power, or even more devastating, will happen in the regions next to the ones already affected,” said INGV seismologist Alberto Mikelini.
The scientist noted that the current chain of seismic events in the region had started with the previous major earthquake in August, which killed 300 people and devastated several towns.
The seismic activity is intensive enough to affect an area of at least 20-25km in radius, according to INGV seismologist Alessandro Amato.
“It [seismic activity] affects a wide area located between the epicenters of the August 24 and October 26 earthquakes,” Amato added.
The new earthquake and its aftershocks crushed buildings already damaged in August.
A number of historical buildings, including a 14th century basilica in Norcia, were destroyed in the disaster.
"This morning's quake has hit the few things that were left standing. We will have to start from scratch," Michele Franchi, the deputy mayor of Arquata del Tronto, told RAI TV.
Several cracks have reportedly appeared on the facade of the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome, although the severity of the damage is unclear so far.
The earthquake on Sunday claimed no lives, but 20 people were injured and multiple buildings destroyed, according to the head of Italy’s Civil Defense, Fabrizio Curcio.
“No one among the injured is in a life-threatening condition, there are neither dead, nor missing” said Curcio.
He stressed, however, that “it was an important earthquake,” since Italy’s rescue services had to transport the injured by helicopters, due to roads being blocked by rubble.
The governor of the Marche region said that over 100,000 people in his region alone were in need of help.
The 6.6 magnitude quake struck central Italy on Sunday morning, with the epicenter located 10km underground in the vicinity of the town of Norcia. Two aftershocks measuring 4.6 and 4.1 followed in 20 minutes. The four regions of Marche, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo took the main hit, while the jolts were felt clearly throughout Italy, including Rome and other major cities. The worst-affected areas had already been struck by powerful earthquakes on August 24 and October 26.