Italy hit by powerful earthquake

Italy was violently shaken by a powerful earthquake on Sunday morning, causing injuries and destruction, but so far no deaths have been reported.

Some 20 people were injured, many lightly, in a powerful earthquake of 6.6 magnitude that hit Italy on Sunday morning.

Central and southern Italy was hit by the 6.6 magnitude tremor, but the geological event was felt throughout the country.

Sunday’s quake was the strongest to strike the country in nearly 36 years, the latest in a series of recent quakes.

The quake sent surviving buildings damaged from recent quakes crumbling, leaving thousands more homeless, after many people had already been sleeping in cars or evacuated to shelters or hotels in other areas after Wednesday’s strong tremors.

The country has also been rocked by a massive earthquake in August which killed some 300. Some of the same areas were hit again.

The quake hit an region with many historical landmarks. The 14th century St. Benedict cathedral in Norcia crumbled, leaving only its facade standing.

The mayor of Ussita, another town hit, said a huge cloud of smoke erupted from the crumbled buildings.

“It’s a disaster, a disaster!” Mayor Marco Rinaldi told ANSA. “I was sleeping in the car and I saw hell.”

The quake sent boulders rolling onto state highways and roads, forcing closures throughout the quake zone that impeded access to hard-hit cities and forced rescue units to use helicopters to gain access to the disaster zone.

The powerful earthquake forced the temporary closure of some of Rome’s most important tourist sites.

Israel Offers Assistance

Speaking at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended Israel’s best wishes and offered assistance to Italy.

“Italy has experienced an earthquake that could be very severe. I would like to tell my friend, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, that Israel is ready and willing to send assistance to the best of our ability. We take care to maintain high readiness for disasters. The State of Israel is prepared and we are ready to help our Italian friends,” Netanyahu stated.

Italy’s president is currently in Israel for a state visit.

To date, Italy’s worst quake in recent history remains the 1908 Messina quake that destroyed the city and killed tens of thousands of people.

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.