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Central Italy Assesses Damage After Sunday’s Quake

  • VOA News

A statue of St. Benedict gestures toward the damaged town hall clock tower in the ancient town of Norcia, Italy, Oct. 31, 2016.

A statue of St. Benedict gestures toward the damaged town hall clock tower in the ancient town of Norcia, Italy, Oct. 31, 2016.

Authorities continued assessing damage in the central Italy town of Norcia Monday, a day after it was rocked by a 6.6-magnitude earthquake.

Although Sunday's quake was stronger than the August 24 temblor that killed about 300 people, no new deaths were reported. But there was extensive damage.

In the historic town’s center, several churches were destroyed, including the 14th century Basilica of St. Benedict – constructed on the birthplace of the Benedictine monastic order’s founder – and the Cathedral of St. Mary Argentea, known for its 15th century frescoes.

An earthquake Sunday rocked the central Italy town of Norcia, with tremors felt over a wide area.

An earthquake Sunday rocked the central Italy town of Norcia, with tremors felt over a wide area.

Sunday's quake also knocked down the Basilica of San Francesco, built by the Franciscans in the 14th century. It had already been rebuilt once following a powerful earthquake in 1859.

Large sections of Norcia's ancient Roman city walls, damaged in the previous quakes, crumbled along with towers.

Experts said Sunday's quake was the strongest to hit the region since 1980, when a 6.9 quake in Italy's south killed 2,735 people.

Promises to rebuild

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pledged Monday to rebuild parts of central Italy and find temporary housing for all those displaced by the latest quakes.

"Italy has many faults, but these situations bring out the best of us," Renzi said. "We will rebuild everything: the houses, the churches and the businesses. Everything that needs to be done to rebuild these areas will be done."

Many people had already fled that area after the deadly August 24, followed by two strong aftershocks last Wednesday.

Large boulders and rock slides blocked several highways, cutting off some villages from the outside. A nearly nonstop series of small aftershocks made conditions difficult for emergency workers.

The U.S. National Geological Survey reported Sunday's quake was centered near Norcia and at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, making it felt over a widespread area.

In Rome, 90 kilometers to the south, schools were closed Monday so buildings could be inspected for structural damage, according to a municipal website.

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