Old City Near Epicenter Hard Hit by Italy Quake
ROME (AP) — Officials say today's strong earthquake in central and southern Italy was too much for many buildings that had resisted an August temblor and two aftershocks.
The buildings collapsed in the quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 struck regions already damaged by previous quakes. Officials say they have reports of injuries but not deaths yet.
The quake was centered in a mountainous area straddling the central Italy regions of Umbria and Marche.
A pair of powerful quakes on Wednesday, technically aftershocks from an August earthquake that killed nearly 300 people, may have helped save lives since many people still were sleeping in cars or had been evacuated to shelters or hotels in other areas.
The ancient city of Norcia, famed for its Benedictine monastery and its cured meats, is one of the locations hardest-hit.
Eyewitnesses said the St. Benedict cathedral, the 14th century cathedral in one of the city's main piazza, crumbled in the Sunday morning quake and only its facade remains standing. Priests prayed in the piazza amid the rubble.
Norcia city assessor Giuseppina Perla tells the ANSA news agency, "It's as if the whole city fell down."
The city's ancient walls suffered damage, as did another famous Norcia church, St. Mary Argentea, known for its 15th century frescoes.