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Thousands Homeless and 7 Dead in Deadly 6.0 Earthquake in Italy on Sunday

May 21, 2012

The magnitude six tremor, centered north of Bologna, destroyed or badly damaged many historic buildings. Italian officials say the priority is to find safe accommodation for an estimate 3,000 displaced people.

Thousands of people left homeless by a powerful earthquake in northern Italy have spent the night in shelters as aftershocks continue to hit the region. At least seven people died and more than 50 were injured when the quake struck in the early hours of Sunday.  Civil protection officials in the town of Finale Emilia organized the setting up of tents on a football pitch to accommodate hundreds of residents. Many had seen their homes destroyed but others were simply too afraid to return home.

A 5.1 magnitude aftershock struck Sunday afternoon, destroying several buildings already weakened.

The original earthquake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10km just after 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT) on Sunday. Its epicenter was between the towns of Finale Emilia, San Felice sul Panaro and Sermide, about 35km (20 miles) north of the city of Bologna. It was felt across a large swathe of northern Italy, as far away as the cities of Milan and Venice.

Italian TV showed many historic buildings reduced to rubble. Cars lay crushed under fallen masonry. The roof of a recently renovated sixteenth-century chapel in San Carlo, near the city of Ferrara, collapsed, leaving statues of angels exposed to the elements.

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