In the early morning of Aug. 24th, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit a series of mountainous towns in central Italy. At least 247 have been killed, many more are injured and 2,000 people are left homeless. While this was the major one, several strong aftershocks ranging from 4.0 to 5.5 occurred throughout the day.
The town that was hit the worst was Amatrice, which is located 100 miles east of Rome. According to CNN, this ancient town is “situated in remote, mountainous terrain, popular with tourists in the summer months.” Because of this, the exact number of tourists could not be determined.
To locals, the town of Amatrice is known as the “home of the spaghetti Amatriciana pasta dish,” but today it lies in a pile of ruins. As many as 100 churches were destroyed by the shock, and those left barely standing have to be demolished. Ascenzio Attennie, a local who lived outside of Amatrice, was interviewed by ABC News, “It took me 20 years to get my house, and then, in just ten seconds, it was gone, like so many others.”
Several nearby villages were affected by this earthquake just as harshly as Amatrice. As NBC News describes, Rome, which is 100 miles farther from the central damage, was shaken as the city “lights swayed and car alarms went off.”
In the town of Ceseli, which is about 100 miles northeast of Rome, many residents reported feeling the tremor. Fortunately in Norcia, no victims were severely injured, but residents all gathered around the town’s main square, the only place still standing.
Italy is known to have earthquakes, both minor or major. Earth’s inner shell is the cause for these destructive tremors. The Earth’s shell is divided into large tectonic plates.
Italy sits on a major fault lines where the Eurasian and African plates meet and constantly grind each other causing tension that results in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In addition to these major faults, there are chains of smaller fault lines along the Apennine Mountains. This mountain range runs along the country from north to south where earthquakes and ruptures are common.
Within hours of the destructive earthquake, thousands of volunteers from all over Italy stopped everything to go to the central mountains to help. While some were specialist rescuers who searched for victims through the rubble, others were nearby residents who wanted to support others who were affected. The majority of people searching through the debris were volunteers. Other volunteers were handing out blankets, food, clothes and water. “In the first twenty-four hours, it’s a big help to have all the volunteers we can get, because time is of the essence in an emergency,” an unknown fire department chief said. Even rescue dogs were searching through the debris using their scent to search for victims.
The prime minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, discussed with an architect, Renzo Piano, about reconstruction plans to recover the damaged towns in the mountains. They plan to build wooden huts in three months for the 2,500 homeless victims. The wooden huts will have the basics, such as one or two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom.
The reconstruction plans have an estimated cost of about 55,000 euros for a 40 square-foot-sized hut. The race to beat winter for completing shelters will be a challenge, but people will be given access to stay in temporary hotel rooms and refuge houses when colder weather arrives. As for now, many survivors are satisfied by finding shelter in tented camps and vehicles. If you are interested in helping the victims, contact the Italian Red Cross directly.
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