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Italy's experts warn of more quakes
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Oct 28, 2016

Italy quake survivors head for the coast
Ussita, Italy (AFP) Oct 28, 2016 - There was no relief for residents in Italy's quake-centre on Friday, where survivors with their nerves frayed by hundreds of aftershocks were packing up their few belongings and moving to the Adriatic coast.

Following two powerful 6.1 and 5.5 magnitude quakes on Wednesday which left almost 5,000 people homeless, Italy's national geophysics institute (INGV) has recorded almost 700 tremors, with experts saying they could go on for weeks or months.

Italy's civil protection agency has offered financial support to those whose houses were damaged, allowing them to relocate on their own, take a room in designated residences nearby, or move to hotels on the coast some 80 kilometres (50 miles) away.

Many "have chosen the latter, using their own vehicles or buses made available to them by civil protection," the agency said.

In the town of Ussita, one of the areas most affected by the quakes, some 260 people took refuge in the local campsite, moving into the small wooden bungalows on site.

Lara Manzoni, who works at a frozen pizza company the premises of which were damaged in the quake, has come to help out at the campsite bar instead.

"I sent my children to my mother in Bergamo (in northern Italy) to keep them safe, but I could not see myself leaving all these people in trouble," she said.

Some in the area had invested in motor-homes following the deadly August 24 quake so they would have somewhere mobile to live if fresh tremours hit, she said.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited the area on Thursday, promising those affected that "Italy does not abandon its citizens".

"The earthquake has tested us, but we are stronger," he said, unlocking 40 million euros ($44 million) for the emergency and ruling out survivors spending the winter in tent camps.

Italy's major risks commission cautioned Friday that there may be more powerful earthquakes to come following two this week in the country's mountainous centre and a deadly one in August.

"There is no current evidence that the (seismic) sequence underway is coming to an end," it warned.

The National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks (CGR) said that in the wake of the August 24 quake that killed nearly 300 people it had identified three areas at risk for further seismic activity.

The areas were "adjoining the fault responsible" for the disaster which levelled entire villages, it said in a statement referring to the fracture in the earth's crust where quakes can occur.

They were areas "which have not seen recent, large earthquakes and could produce high-magnitude quakes (6-7)", it added.

Wednesday's quakes (5.5 and 6.1 magnitude) "activated one of the areas identified by the commission, to the north of the August quake, while the other two did not move," it said.

Those that did not move, both in the central Appenines, "represent possibile sources of future earthquakes in the region".

In particular, the commission said it "cannot rule out the continuation of seismic activity to the north of the Vettore-Bove," referring to Mount Vettore and Mount Bove on the border between the Umbria and Marche regions.

It described the earthquakes, which Wednesday brought down houses but left the local populations largely unscathed, to be typical of those in the Apennines, and warned history shows very strong quakes can follow each other here even months apart.

Ghost villages in quake-hit central Italy
Ussita, Italy (AFP) Oct 28, 2016 - The coloured houses and bustling squares of villages nestled in the mountains of the Marche region in central Italy were abandoned in a matter of hours as earthquake survivors fled.

As residents from Visso to Ussita and Castelsantagelo reeled from two powerful quakes on Wednesday and gazed in desolation at the collapsed buildings and cracked church towers, firemen ordered them to leave for security reasons.

Many in Ussita had already run from their homes as the first quake hit at 7:10pm, and were somewhere safe by the time the second, 6.1 magnitude quake, toppled walls at 9:18pm.

There have been nearly 700 aftershocks since then.

Those hoping to go back have to be escorted by firefighters: "We help one by one those who want to return home to recover personal items, essential things," fireman Michelangelo Garetti told AFP.

Locals line up to identify themselves and point out their houses. One man, Otello, said he wanted to recover "some valuables and also clothes for the winter, which promises to be long and hard".

While this is an area of lush green forests and valleys in bloom in the warm months, temperatures plunge once the snows fall.

"Few houses are safe and in any case we don't trust them. The ground has been 'dancing' under our feet in this small valley for the past two months," said the man, who is being put up by relatives in nearby Macerata.

- Wooden bungalows -

Ussita had already been shaken hard by a deadly nighttime earthquake on August 24 which hit a few dozen kilometers to the south.

Now locals are "either with relatives, or in hotels near the coast, or sleeping in campers," said Lara Manzoni, a 30-something resident who moved from Bergamo in the north of Italy a year ago to settle in Ussita.

Although she works for a frozen pizza company in a nearby village, she and hundreds of colleagues must wait for experts to verify to what extent the company's premises were damaged before she can return to work.

"I sent my children to my mother in Bergamo to keep them safe, but I could not see myself leaving all these people in trouble," she said.

Although the government has promised that all destroyed or damaged buildings will be rebuilt, "I do not know if I'll stay".

"I might leave the Marche region entirely, or buy a camper myself," she said.

In the meantime she is lending a hand at the village's campsite, which reopened out of season on Wednesday to accommodate some 250 quake survivors in its Alpine chalet-style wooden bungalows.

Some locals were lucky enough to already have their own, others have been lent chalets -- bedding and all -- by absent owners.

On a hill overlooking the site stands the village's once-prized attraction: a 15th century tower, now cracked from top to bottom.

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Previous Report
Italy in 'miraculous' earthquake escape
Visso, Italy (AFP) Oct 27, 2016
Italy on Thursday vowed to rebuild every home destroyed after two powerful earthquakes that forced thousands to flee in terror but "miraculously" did not cause any fatalities. Two months after tremors in the same area left nearly 300 dead, the twin quakes ripped through a mountainous, sparsely-populated part of central Italy on Wednesday evening. Despite numerous building collapses, no d ... read more

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