Norcia earthquake shakes Rome

Earthquake closes capital's schools and causes damage to Rome basilica.

A powerful earthquake which hit Italy's central Umbria region at 07.41 on 30 October was felt in Rome, leading to the closure of the city's schools and nurseries as a precautionary measure, on Monday 31 October.

The epicentre of the earthquake, with a magnitude of M 6.5, was between Norcia and Preci, in the province of Perugia, about 170 km north-east of Rome.

norcia earthquake road
Road near Norcia

 

Although there were no casualties reported the quake has caused extensive structural damage to historic buildings, destroying the mediaeval Basilica of St Benedict in Norcia and leading to cracks in the façade of Rome's Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls and St Ivo alla Sapienza, just off Piazza Navona.

The capital's metro system was shut down for several hours after the earthquake, believed to be the strongest to hit Italy since 1980 when a 6.9 quake caused the deaths of at least 2,483 people in Irpinia around Naples in southern Italy.

The Norcia earthquake occurred just five days after two quakes struck Visso and Ussita, both located in the Marche region about mid-way between Perugia and Macerata. The two tremors, which measured magnitude M 5.4 and 5.9, left thousands of people unable to use their homes, for structural and safety reasons.

The Norcia earthquake also comes two months after the M 6.2 earthquake that devastated the north Lazio town of Amatrice, causing 298 deaths, on 24 August.

Italian premier Matteo Renzi has pledged that everything will be rebuilt, saying that the destroyed homes, churches and businesses were part of Italy's national identity.