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Earthquake devastates central Italy early Wednesday morning

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This aerial photo shows the damaged buildings in the town of Amatrice, central Italy, after an earthquake, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)           NYTCREDIT: Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

This aerial photo shows the damaged buildings in the town of Amatrice, central Italy, after an earthquake, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome where residents of the capital felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
NYTCREDIT: Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning devastating the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Marche, with tremors awakening those almost 100 miles away. Over 200 aftershocks have occurred since the quake, including a 5.5 tremor at 4:33 a.m. At the time of this writing, 73 people have died, at least 100 more sustained injuries and thousands have been displaced from their homes—with countless awaiting rescue still trapped under the rubble. Wednesday’s earthquake is considered comparable to an earthquake which struck the Abruzzo region in 2009, which took the lives of 300 people.

Image: NY Times

Image: NY Times

Image: NY Times

Image: NY Times

According to Immacolata Postiglione, head of emergency services for Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, “The number of missing people is undefined at this moment.” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will head toward the epicenter on Wednesday, vowing solidarity in his statements, “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone,” as he thanked rescue workers and volunteers for their efforts Wednesday morning. Civil Protection Worker Andrea Gentili expressed pleas for assistance, “We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams. Everything, we need everything.”

The towns of Amatrice and Accumoli of the Lazio region appear hardest hit, with the village of Arquata del Tronto and the Pescara del Tronto hamlet in Marche sustaining significant damage as well. Some emergency personnel are walking from house to house shouting out to find those in need of help, some with the assistance of canines, while helicopters assess the regions from above, carrying some to safety once located. Some of the winding roads to the remote villages are blocked by debris, jammed with emergency vehicles and bulldozers attempting the routes. The mountainous terrain of the location adds to the difficulty in rescue efforts to pry people free, as many have joined in to help with their bare hands. The Pope has sent a team of six Vatican firefighters to assist as well.

Image: NY Times

Image: NY Times

Image: NY Times

Image: NY Times

Mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, hopes most of those trapped in his town’s rubble will be found alive as he grieves for half the city, which no longer exists, and notes that the historic buildings dating back to the Middle Ages are now destroyed. Amatrice’s hospital was evacuated and all patients survived without injury. Pirozzi noted the missing from his town include three nuns, two Afghan refugees and several elderly boardinghouse tenants.

France, Germany and Israel have offered support and Facebook has prepared their Safety Check feature for those affected, and donations may be made to the Italian Red Cross as well. CNN is posting live updates on the earthquake and rescue progress throughout the day.

Kristen lives in the Michiana area, where she enjoys lake-effect weather, apple orchards and occasional South Shore rides into Chicago. She can probably tell you more about apple cider vinegar than you'd ever want to know. You can reach her at: http://lakesedge.wix.com/lakesidewriting