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At least 92 killed in Italy earthquake

[ 2009-04-07 14:49]     字号 [] [] []  
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A powerful earthquake in mountainous central Italy knocked down blocks of buildings early yesterday as residents slept. At least 92 people were killed and many more were trapped, officials and rescue workers said. Up to 100,000 are homeless.

The earthquake's epicenter was about 110 km northeast of Rome near the medieval city of L'Aquila. It struck at 3:32 am local time in a quake-prone region that has had at least nine smaller jolts since the beginning of April. The US Geological Survey said yesterday's quake was a magnitude 6.3.

Most of the dead were in L'Aquila, a 13th-century mountain city of 68,000 about 100 km east of Rome, and surrounding towns and villages in the Abruzzo region. The quake hit 26 towns and cities in the area.

Residents of Rome, which is rarely hit by seismic activity, were awoken by the quake, which rattled furniture and swayed lights in most of central Italy.

Ansa news agency, quoting rescue workers, said the death toll had reached 92 nearly 12 hours after the quake struck.

L'Aquila Mayor Massimo Cialente said about 100,000 people were homeless. It was not clear if that estimate included surrounding towns. Some 10,000 to 15,000 buildings were either damaged or destroyed, officials said.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency, freeing up federal funds to deal with the disaster. He also canceled a visit to Russia so he could deal with the quake crisis.

"I woke up hearing what sounded like a bomb," said Angela Palumbo, 87, as she walked on a street in L'Aquila.

"We managed to escape with things falling all around us. Everything was shaking, furniture falling. I don't remember ever seeing anything like this in my life," she said.

Slabs of walls, twisted steel supports, furniture and wire fences were strewn about the streets; gray dust carpeted sidewalks, cars and residents.

As ambulances screamed through the city, firefighters aided by dogs worked feverishly to reach people trapped in fallen buildings, including a student dormitory where half a dozen university students were believed to be still inside.

Older houses and buildings made of stone, particularly in outlying villages that have not seen much restoration, collapsed like straw houses.

The quake brought down the bell tower of a church in the centre of L'Aquila. There were numerous reports of some the area's centuries-old Romanesque and Renaissance churches collapsing.

Many of L'Aquila's modern buildings were also damaged.

The last major quake to hit central Italy was a 5.4-magnitude one that struck the south-central Molise region on Oct. 31, 2002. That quake killed 28 people, including 27 children, who died when their school collapsed.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

At least 92 killed in Italy earthquake

About the broadcaster:

At least 92 killed in Italy earthquake

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.