6.2 Magnitude Earthquake hits central Italy

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At 3:36am this morning, local time a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck about 10 kilometres southeast of Norcia, Italy. The quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres, and was felt all the way to Rome, about 100 miles (150 km) away from the town of Norcia.

120 or more people are dead, officials have said, including children, and around 100 people are reported missing. The death toll has risen over the course of the day, and is expected to rise further as scores of people remain unaccounted for. The 6.2 magnitude quake has effected the central towns of Norcia, Pescara del Tronto, Accumoli and Amatrice. Sergio Pirozzi, Amatrice's mayor, remarked, "Half the town no longer exists", as most of it has been reduced to rubble. Mayor Pirozzi went on to say rescue teams were digging with the "[hope] that most people were alive."

File photo of a church in Norcia, Italy, 2003.
Image: Starlight.

After hearing about the devastating effects of the earthquake, Pope Francis postponed a weekly address on religious teachings, instead dedicating a prayer session in Saint Peter's Square for those affected by the disaster. "[L]earning that there are children among the victims, I am deeply saddened," Pope Francis told his public.

Authorities have compared today's earthquake in central Italy to the 2009 earthquake that killed over 300 people in Abruzzo, Italy. Italy's Civil Protection agency characterized the earthquake as "severe".