5.6-magnitude aftershock earthquake strikes Italy

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An aftershock with a magnitude of 5.6 shook Central Italy on Tuesday, nearly 48 hours after a major 6.3 quake hit the country. Earlier in the day, another aftershock of 4.2 was also reported. The death toll from the quakes has now surpassed 200 with thousands of others injured. At least one person was killed in the aftershock.

The aftershock caused two apartment blocks to collapse in the city of L'Aquila, and slabs of masonry fell from other damaged buildings. Local media reported that an old church and many houses were also damaged. The shaking was felt as far away as Rome.

Francessco Rocha, the head of the Italian Red Cross, estimated that 20,000 people had lost their homes, and it may be many months before they can return to them.

"The victims so far are 207," said the premier of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, at a press conference. "Of these victims, 190 have been identified while other 17 remain unidentified, 15 people are missing and there are more than 1,000 injured, 100 of which are in serious conditions," said Rocha.

"Civil protection men are working hard and for the next 48 hours rescuers will search for other survivors," added Berlusconi. "More than 7,000 men are at work. These people risk their lives and I want to congratulate myself with them, they are doing an extraordinary job considering the frequent ground movements complicate rescuing operations. Already 150 people have been extracted and saved from the ruins."

The 6.3-magnitude quake on April 6 is the deadliest quake to strike Italy since November 23, 1980. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in a magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck Southern Italy in the Irpinia region. At least 10,000 were injured in that earthquake, with over 300,000 being left homeless.


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