I woke up and I saw hell: Italy rocked as powerful quake flattens buildings

A powerful earthquake has hit central Italy just days after tremors saw hundreds forced from their homes. Buildings already weakened by Wednesday’s seismic activity and a powerful earthquake which left 298 people dead in August finally crumbled after the strike early on Sunday morning. In the town of Norcia, near Perugia, nuns and monks fled into the street as a church, which had been left standing after the recent earthquakes, collapsed. They joined residents to pray in the town square where a firefighter appealed to the priest to keep panicking residents calm saying: “I don’t want people to go searching for family members.”

It’s a disaster, a disaster! I was sleeping in the car and I saw hell.

Mayor of Ussita Marco Rinaldi

Hundreds of residents in towns in the Umbria and Marche regions had already fled to the coast after being struck four days ago by a 6.1 magnitude and 5.5 magnitude earthquake. Sunday’s quake struck at 7.40am at a magnitude of 6.6 and a depth of 10km. The Monks of Norcia said the Basilica of St Benedict had been flattened in the quake. Giant cracks appeared in the town hall clock tower next to the church and it appeared perilously close to collapse. Aleandro Petrucci, the mayor of Arquata del Tronto, another of the towns damaged by the strike, declared: “There are no towns left. Everything’s come down.”

It’s as if the whole city fell down

Norcia city assessor Giuseppina Perla