Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Italy Mourns As Quake Death Toll Approaches 160, At Least 3 Dead After Burma Quakes

Italy mourns quake victims as death toll approaches 160 (PHOTOS)

Rescuers continued to search for survivors in central Italian towns devastated by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake as the number of victims rose to 159 on Wednesday night. Accounts of lucky escapes and tragedies have emerged as communities struggle to cope with the aftermath.

The dramatic rescue operation continued overnight into the early hours of Thursday as scores of people are still believed trapped under the rubble. Thousands have been left homeless.
At least 86 victims come from the small towns of Amatrice and Accumoli that lie close to the epicenter of the quake, about 100 km from Rome.

The ancient town of Amatrice, where an annual food festival celebrating the town’s customary spaghetti that typically lures thousands of tourists was to take place in three days, was reduced to rubble with three-quarters of the buildings demolished by the quake.

Some 70 guests were checked into the collapsed Hotel Roma as they arrived in the town for the occasion. Five bodies, including that of an 11-year-old child, were removed from under debris before the rescue effort at the hotel was halted out of safety concerns. Dozens of guests are believed to be trapped.
“It’s all young people here, it’s holiday season, the town festival was to have been held the day after tomorrow, so lots of people came for that,” a local resident told Reuters.

The rescue units have been joined by hundreds of volunteers who are trying to pull out survivors.

However, the hopes of finding survivors have been diminishing with every hour.

“Unfortunately, 90 percent of those we pull out are dead, but some make it, that's why we are here,” Christian Bianchetti, a volunteer in Amatrice, told AP.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called on his fellow citizens to unite in the face of the tragedy, as he visited the most heavily stricken area.

"We Italians are very good at arguing and being polemical, but now let's stand in solidarity and pride alongside those who are rescuing others," Renzi was cited as saying.
In the wake of the disaster, Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi said that the town “wasn’t there anymore.”
Tents have been erected for hundreds of the now homeless residents, which will serve as temporary shelters.
"Tonight will be our first nightmare night," local resident Alessandro Gabrielli told Reuters. 

Early Wednesday morning, a devastating 6.2 magnitude earthquake strong enough to be felt more than 100 miles away in Rome, hit central Italy southeast of Norcia.
Towns across three regions — Umbria, Lazio and Marche — were hit. The mayor of Amatrice, a town in the province of Rieti where the earthquake did the most damage, says his town “isn’t here any more”. The earthquake has essentially wiped it off the map (see below).

At least 3 reported dead after powerful earthquake strikes central Burma

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 rocked central Burma on Wednesday, damaging nearly 100 ancient Buddhist pagodas in the tourist city of Bagan and reportedly killing at least three people.
The quake was centered about 15 miles west of Chauk, an area west of the ancient capital of Bagan, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was located fairly far below the Earth's surface at a depth of about 52 miles, it said. Deep earthquakes generally cause less surface damage.
At least 94 brick pagodas in Bagan were damaged, the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs said in a statement. Bagan, also known as Pagan, has more than 2,200 structures including pagodas and temples constructed from the 10th to the 14th centuries. Many are in disrepair while others have been restored in recent years, aided by the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO.
The vast site is the country's premier attraction for tourists, who can view a panorama of temples stretching to the horizon flanked by the mighty Irrawaddy River, an especially impressive experience at sunset.
Police officer Htay Win in Pakokku, about 45 miles from the epicenter, said one person there had been killed and one injured. "The person was killed by falling bricks from a building," he said. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement reported two other deaths in nearby Thitapwe village.
Vincent Panzani, a staff member in Pakokku for the aid agency Save the Children, said several of his colleagues from the area described the earthquake as the strongest they have experienced.
"We felt quite heavy shaking for about 10 seconds and started to evacuate the building when there was another strong tremor," he said in comments sent by email. "Most of the reports of damage have been to the pagodas in the area with dozens impacted. There have also been reports of damage to smaller, more basic buildings including a collapsed wall and a destroyed roof."
Worried residents of Yangon, the country's main city, rushed out of tall buildings, and objects toppled from tables and from Buddhist shrines in homes. However, there were no reports of serious damage in the city.
The quake was also felt in a half dozen states in neighboring India, where people rushed out of offices and homes at several places. It caused buildings to sway in Bangkok, Thailand's capital, several hundred miles to the east. There were no immediate reports of damage in either country.

The last major quake in the area -- which is often affected by smaller tremors -- occurred in April about 180 miles further north, and measured magnitude 6.9. It caused no reported casualties and only minor damage.

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