Italy quake kills four,damages historic buildings

Updated 20 May 2012
0

Italy quake kills four,damages historic buildings

SANT’ AGOSTINO, Italy: A strong earthquake killed four people, injured dozens and damaged churches, towers and a mediaeval castle early on Sunday, waking terrified citizens across northern Italy and sending thousands running into the streets.
The quake, which the US Geological Survey recorded at magnitude 6.0, struck at 4:04 a.m. (0204 GMT) and was followed by a series of jolting aftershocks.
“I am 83 and I have never felt anything like this,” said Lina Gardenghi, a resident of Bondeno.
The epicenter of the quake, the strongest to hit Italy in three years, was in the plains near Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of the Po river valley, and the tremor was felt as far west as Liguria, bordering France, and the Friuli region bordering Slovenia.
The quake seriously damaged many historic churches and other buildings, adding up to the greatest loss to Italy’s artistic patrimony since an earthquake in 1997 damaged the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, whose ceiling collapsed.
The massive, imposing 14th century Estense Castle, the symbol of the town of San Felice Sul Panaro and its most important building, was severely damaged.
The tops of several of the smaller towers collapsed and there were fears that the main tower, weakened by cracks, could tumble down. Three of the town’s churches were severely hit, damaging centuries-old frescoes and other works of art.
“We have practically lost all our artistic patrimony,” said Alberto Silvestri, mayor of San Felice Sul Panaro. “Churches and towers collapsed. The theater is still standing but has cracks.”
The quake left a gaping hole and gashes in the side of the Sant’ Agostino’s Renaissance style town hall, which officials said was in danger of total collapse. The town’s streets were strewn with rubble and the stench of gas filled the town and raised fears of explosions.
In Bondeno, a Moroccan man working a night shift in a polyester factory died when he was hit by falling debris.
A 57-year-old Italian was killed when part of an ironworks in Sant’ Agostino collapsed, and two men were killed in the same town when part of a ceramics factory collapsed. “He wasn’t supposed to be there. He changed shifts with a friend who wanted to go to the beach,” the mother of one of the victims said.
Pope Benedict prayed for the victims in his Sunday address at the Vatican.
A series of strong aftershocks hit the area, the most violent having a magnitude of 5.1. Mayors ordered residents to stay outdoors pending checks by structural engineers and began preparations to house those who could not return to their homes.
Two other people, one of them a German woman, were reported to have died after suffering heart attacks because of the quake, and several dozen people suffered minor injuries.
The quake was centerd 22 miles (35 km) north-northwest of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 6.3 miles (10 km), the US Geological Survey said.
The last major quake to hit Italy was a 6.3 magnitude quake in the central city of L’Aquila in 2009, which killed nearly 300 people.
After that quake, then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi moved a G8 meeting that was to have been held in Sardinia to near L’Aquila in a show of solidarity with the victims.


Police smash rings that smuggled Moroccan minors into Spain

Updated 23 June 2018
0

Police smash rings that smuggled Moroccan minors into Spain

  • One gang allegedly charged about €2,000 to smuggle a minor by boat from Morocco, a price that would rise to up to €8,000 if weather conditions were bad.
  • The group charged €5,000 to bring minors across on a jet ski and €2,500 hidden inside trucks on ferries. It is suspected of having smuggled over 100 migrants into Spain from Morocco.

MADRID: Police have broken up two gangs suspected of smuggling minors from Morocco into Spain on jet skis, boats or hidden inside trucks, charging thousands of euros for the crossing, Spanish police and Europol said Friday.
One gang allegedly charged about €2,000 ($2,300) to smuggle a minor by boat from Morocco, a price that would rise to up to €8,000 if weather conditions were bad, Spanish police said in a statement.
The group charged €5,000 to bring minors across on a jet ski and €2,500 hidden inside trucks on ferries. It is suspected of having smuggled over 100 migrants into Spain from Morocco.
Spanish police said they had broken up the group with the arrest of 22 people across the country, including three employees of a youth detention center in the northern region of Asturias suspected of helping the minors get documents to be able to live in Spain legally.
The authorities said they began their investigation after detecting a significant rise in the arrival of unaccompanied minors from Morocco at this youth detention center, who were all mainly from the same area near the Sahara desert.
During a second phase police broke up another gang linked to the first group which smuggled minors from Morocco to Spain by boat, but which also kidnapped minors who were brought in by rival groups and held them for ransom in forests or safe houses in the southern province of Cadiz.
“The criminal gang collected money by extorting the minors’ families in Morocco, sometimes using violence and threats, until they paid a ransom of €500 to release the children,” Europol, which worked with Spanish police on the operation, said in a statement.
Spanish police said they had smashed this second group with the arrest of six of its members.
The Strait of Gibraltar separates Spain and Morocco by around just 15 kilometers (nine miles) — a ferry ride between the two continents takes roughly 40 minutes — making it one of the key smuggling routes for illegal immigrants crossing into Europe.
Spain is the third busiest gateway for migrants arriving in Europe, still far behind Italy but catching up fast with Greece.
According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 22,400 people arrived in Spain by sea last year, nearly triple the number for 2016. Some 223 people died along the way.