Buildings destroyed as powerful 6.6 EARTHQUAKE hits central Italy

Physinews:"There are no towns", says one official, after a quake destroys buildings just days after two tremors forced hundreds to flee.
The destroyed Basilica of St Benedict in Norcia. Picture: @Physinews
People flee powerful earthquake in Italy
A powerful earthquake has hit central Italy, striking communities already attempting to rebuild after a series of devastating tremors.
Buildings already weakened by the powerful earthquake in August, which left 298 people dead, and two massive aftershocks last week, finally collapsed after the strike early on Sunday morning.

The magnitude was recorded at 6.6, with a depth of 10km, and if that stands, it would make it the most powerful earthquake to hit the country in 36 years.
In the town of Norcia, near Perugia, in the region of Umbria, nuns and monks fled into the street as a cathedral and a church, which had been left standing after the recent earthquakes, crumbled.
Rubble from Italian earthquake
Buildings destroyed by Italian quake
They joined residents to pray in the town square where a firefighter appealed to the priest to keep panicking residents calm saying: "We have to keep people calm. Prayer can help. I don't want people to go searching for family members."
The Monks of Norcia said the 14th century Basilica of St Benedict had been "flattened" in the quake, which struck the town at 7.40am.
Rescue workers help a nun in Piazza San Benedetto in Norcia
Rescue workers help a nun in Piazza San Benedetto in Norcia
Upset by the collapse, monks knelt in the rubble of the landmark, which attracts 50,000 pilgrims every year.
St Mary Argentea church, know for its 15th century frescoes, and the town's ancient walls were also seriously damaged.
And giant cracks appeared in the town hall clock tower, which appeared perilously close to collapse.
Norcia city assessor Giuseppina Perla said: "It's as if the whole city fell down."
Aleandro Petrucci, the mayor of Arquata del Tronto, another of the towns battered by the series of quakes, declared: "There are no towns left. Everything's come down."
Around 1,300 residents in towns in the Umbria and Marche regions had already fled to the coast after being struck four days ago by a 6.1 magnitude and 5.5 magnitude earthquake.
Those who had not left had been sleeping in their cars. One of them was the Mayor of Ussita, Marco Rinaldi. He said: "Everything collapsed. I can see columns of smoke, it's a disaster, a disaster.
"I was sleeping in my car. I saw hell break out."
The quake was felt as far away as Rome
The quake was felt as far away as Rome
Italy's emergency services said there was serious damage across towns and villages in the regions of Marche and Umbria.
Three people were pulled from rubble in the town of Ussita but no deaths have been reported.
Civil Protection chief Fabrizio Curcio said: "No deaths have been reported but there are a number of people injured."
The earthquake was felt in Rome, in the Austria city of Salzburg, and as far south as the Puglia region at the tip of the Italian peninsula.
The Rome underground was closed for structural safety checks.
The US Geological Service measures the earthquake at 6.6 with its epicentre three miles north of Norcia.

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