Italy Quake: Search For Survivors In Emilia Romagna

by
Ricky
Rescuers in northern Italy are continuing to comb through the rubble for more survivors after a strong earthquake killed at least 16 people.

A collapsed building is seen in Cavezzo near Modena May 29, 2012. An earthquake killed at least 15 people in northern Italy on Tuesday, damaging buildings and spreading fear among thousands of residents living in tents after a similarly strong tremor in the same region flattened their homes nine days ago.

Rescuers in northern Italy are continuing to comb through the rubble for more survivors after a strong earthquake killed at least 16 people.

About 350 people were injured after the magnitude 5.8 quake hit the Emilia Romagna region - the second deadly tremor in just over a week.

A woman was pulled out alive in the evening in Cavezzo, but officials say at least one more person is missing.

The quake on 20 May killed seven people and left thousands homeless.

The 6.0 magnitude tremor also caused significant damage to Emilia Romagna's cultural heritage, destroying churches and historic buildings.

The number of people made homeless has now gone up from 6,000 to 14,000 after the two quakes, the Italian government says.

The woman who was saved in Cavezzo reportedly spent 12 hours in the rubble in her kitchen. The 65-year-old managed to survive because a piece of furniture had toppled over, preventing her from being crushed by the wreckage.

She was taken to hospital.

Prime Minister Mario Monti said earlier his government would do everything possible to restore normal life to the area, which was "so special, so important, so productive for Italy".

Government troops are now deployed in the affected areas, and an emergency cabinet meeting will be held on Wednesday.

'Frightening'

Tuesday's quake struck 40km (25 miles) north of Bologna at a depth of 9.6km (six miles) at about 09:03 local time (07:03 GMT).

Thousands of residents ran out of buildings after the tremor, which was felt as far away as Venice and the Austrian border.

The towns of Mirandola, Medolla and Cavezzo were closest to the epicentre, but the northern cities of Milan and Bologna were shaken too.

Among the dead were four people in Mirandola, including two who were in a factory that collapsed. Three people also died in San Felice, and two in Cavezzo.

In Mirandola, the San Francesco church collapsed, leaving only its facade standing.

Three people were killed at a factory that had only been cleared for re-entry on Monday, following the earlier quake, the Corriere della Sera news website says.

A parish priest in the town of Rovereto di Novi is reported to have been killed by a falling beam when he went back into his church to save a Madonna statue.

"It's a disaster, I've never seen anything like it," Cavezzo Mayor Stefano Draghetti was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Christopher Gilbert, a Londoner living in Modena, told the BBC that he had felt "a rolling earthquake lasting around 15 seconds".

Chris Brewerton, living in Mantua, about 58km north of Modena, told the BBC: "The chair starts shaking and there's a feeling of waves below me.

"I rush out into the garden; the shutters and garage door are banging, the ground below me swaying."

Industry hit

There have been several aftershocks since, including a large one at about midday which sent people out into the streets in cities up to 100km away, the BBC's Mark Duff reports from northern Italy.

In Pisa, offices were evacuated as a precautionary measure while there were moments of panic in Venice, where a statue fell to the ground.

Pictures from the worst-affected areas show factories and office blocks reduced to rubble.

Calls to emergency services have overloaded the telephone network in some areas, causing a system blackout. Train services have been halted in some parts of northern Italy.

Emilia Romagna - one of Italy's most agriculturally productive areas famous for many delicacies - has been struggling to recover from the previous quake.

Reports say that Tuesday's tremor dealt a blow to the region's world-famous balsamic vinegar industry - after the previous quake nine days ago hit Parmesan production.

A friendly match between Italy and Luxembourg ahead of the Euro 2012 football championships, due to be played in the northern city of Parma on Tuesday, has been called off.

In 2009, an earthquake in L'Aquila, central Italy, killed nearly 300 people.