Italy declares emergency in quake-stricken zones

Aug 26, 2016, 5:20 AM EDT
2009 earthquake in L'Aquila, Abruzzi, Italy
(Source: Alessandro Giangiulio/flickr)

Italy has declared a state of emergency in the regions worst hit by the devastating earthquake on Wednesday, as the number of casualties due to the disaster climbed to 267. On Friday, a 4.7-magnitude aftershock jolted the Italian town of Amatrice, as more than 5,000 rescuers toil hard for the second night to find the survivors in the wreckage.  

Amid criticism over building standards in high-risk areas, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pledged €50m for rebuilding in addition to cancelling the taxes of the residents in the quake-stricken zones, reports the BBC. Renzi rebuffed the criticism over shoddy construction, saying that it was “absurd” to think that completely quake-proof buildings can be constructed in Italy.

Wednesday’s 6.2-magnitude earthquake has been followed by some 928 aftershocks in the area around Amatrice and the nearby towns of Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto and Accumoli, writes Reuters. All 293 culturally important sites, many of them churches, have been severely hit by the quake.

Italy, which sits on two fault lines, has seen eight devastating earthquakes in 40 years, notes The Guardian.  About 70 percent of the buildings in the country do not conform to seismic standards.