FORMER SUPERVISOR ANGELA ALIOTO ALSO IN ITALYPhoto by Bill Wilson © 2008-2009
A powerful earthquake tore through central Italy on Monday killing more than 90 people as Renaissance buildings in a historic town were reduced to rubble.
Rescue workers quoted by the Italian media, said the provisional death toll had risen to 92, updating an earlier toll of 50 dead, while officials said more than 1,500 people had been injured in the deadly quake.
Bill Wilson, longtime San Francisco Bay Area photo historian, was in Rome with husband Fernando Orlandi.
“I am writing this at about 4:30 am Rome time,” Wilson reported.
“Everyone we know is safe.
“At precisely 3:32:42 Rome time an earthquake centered 60 miles (95 KM) NE of Rome was recorded. Originally reported as 6.7 on the Richter scale it has been revised to 6.3. on the United States Geological Survey.
“Fernando and I were in bed. We weren’t exactly asleep because of jet lag, but we hadn’t gotten out of bed yet.
“The bed started shaking and lasted long enough for Fernando to say, ‘We’re having an earthquake.’
“It seemed like a long time but was probably no more 10 seconds.There was no damage where we were nothing falling off shelves or the like, but there are now reports on Italian television of building collapses closer to the epicenter with possible deaths.
“There was another aftershock as I writing this.”
Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at email@example.com.
San Francisco former Supervisor Angela Alioto is also in Italy.
“Yes we are safe and now in Trevi,” Alioto reported.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom send condolences through a written statement.
“On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, I extend my deepest
condolences to those who lost loved ones in today’s massive earthquake in
Italy,” stated Mayor Newsom.
“Our thoughts are with the Italian people and San Francisco stands
ready to assist those in need.
“San Francisco is a city that lies between several fault lines and has seen
its fair share of earthquakes. This tragedy serves as a reminder for us all
to remain vigilant and prepare ourselves and our families for the next
Hundreds of rescuer workers scrambled to find victims trapped under collapsed homes in L’Aquila, which bore the brunt of the quake, and officials warned the toll would rise.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency and cancelled a trip to Russia so he could go to the city, the capital of the Abruzzo region, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Rome.
The quake struck just after 3:30 am (0130 GMT) and lasted about 30 seconds, bringing down many Renaissance era and Baroque buildings, including the dome on one of the hundreds of years old churches in L’Aquila. The city’s cathedral was also damaged.
Roofs caved in on sleeping inhabitants and boulders fell off mountain slopes blocking many roads. At least five children were among the dead in L’Aquila, according to police quoted by ANSA news agency.
The quake measured magnitude 6.2, according to the Italian geophysical institute.
The epicentre was only five kilometres (three miles) directly below L’Aquila which explained the heavy damage that was inflicted up to 30 kilometres away in all directions.
Sirens blared across the city as rescue workers with dogs raced to find survivors. Many of the 60,000 residents fled into the streets as more than a dozen aftershocks rattled the buildings.
Some even left L’Aquila by foot with belongings in suitcases leaving behind the historic buildings with badly cracked walls and debris strewn across the streets.
Rescue workers pulled several people alive out of one four-storey building and said they could hear the cries of one woman still trapped. They planned to try to lift the roof with a giant crane.
Doctors treated people in the open air outside L’Aquila’s main hospital as only one operating room was functioning.
L’Aquila resident Maria Francesco said: “It was the apocalypse, our house collapsed. It’s destroyed, and there’s nothing left to recover.”
“It’s a scandal what’s happened,” she told AFP. “For the past three months there have been regular tremors, and they’ve been getting stronger and stronger!”
Luigi D’Andrea, a student, was asleep when the quake struck. “Everything shook really hard and bricks started falling on me. Then it was an entire wall that collapsed in my bedroom, then a second.”
He escaped through a neighbour’s flat and returned to recover his computer. “I’m very lucky I wasn’t hurt, but now I don’t know what to do, whether I should leave here or not. I’ll wait and see.”
L’Aquila suffered the biggest toll. Other dead were reported in the surrounding towns and villages of Castelnuovo, Poggio Picenze, Tormintarte, Fossa, Totani and Villa Sant’Angelo, said police quoted by ANSA.
US President Barack Obama, in Turkey as part of a landmark European tour, expressed concern. “We want to send our condolences to the families there and hope that we are able to get rescue teams in,” Obama told a press conference.
Pope Benedict XVI was praying for the victims, the Vatican said. But Guido Bertolaso, head of Italy’s public safety department, warned the toll would rise.
“It’s an event that will mobilise the nation for many weeks,” he said, adding that at least 10,000 homes or buildings had been damaged in the quake.
Some 15,000 people suffered a power outage and the L’Aquila to Rome highway was closed.
The quake came about five hours after a 4.6-magnitude tremor shook the Ravenna district in Emilia-Romagna region, which was felt over a wide area, notably in the Marche region on the Adriatic coast, officials said.
A powerful earthquake in the region claimed 13 lives in 1997 and damaged or destroyed priceless cultural heritage.
Italy is criss-crossed by two fault lines, making it one of Europe’s most quake-vulnerable regions, with some 20 million people at risk.
An October 2002 quake killed 30 people including 27 pupils and their teacher who were crushed under their schoolhouse in the tiny medieval village of San Giuliano di Puglia.
On November 23, 1980, a violent quake struck the southern region of Irpiona near Naples, killing 2,570, injuring 8,850 and displacing 30,000.
Telephone number to inquire about family and friends in Italy, dialed from the United States: 011-39-06-68-201.
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