This morning at 3:36 a.m. local time, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Central Italy 10 kilometers southeast of Norcia (Umbria).
According to a report published this morning by the New York Times, the first seismic activity was followed by “about 40 quakes over the next three hours, including a 5.5-magnitude temblor at 4:33 a.m.”
The greatest damage appears to have occurred in Rieti province in Latium, where hilltop towns Amatrice and Accumoli were devastated. Arquata del Tronto in Ascoli-Piceno province (Marches) has also been hard hit.
According to a statement by the mayor of Amatrice, half of the town has been destroyed and the historic center has been completely wiped away (New York Times).
As of this posting, the earthquakes have claimed the lives of at least 63 persons (La Repubblica).
The death toll is expected to rise. The 2009 earthquake that occurred in Abruzzo took the lives of more than 300 persons.
Across social media, Italian users have been checking in and posting dispatches and reports about relatives and friends in affected areas.
In a brief press conference this morning in Rome, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told reporters that “we will leave no one on their own – not one family, one town or one village” (ANSA English).
“The priority right now is to dig” people out of the rubble, he added.
The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce blog will report updates as the situation develops. Currently, no information on ways to contribute to disaster relief are available.
Image via the United States Geological Survey website.