Italy quake kills four,damages historic buildings
Italy quake kills four,damages historic buildings
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.
Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat
- 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
- The three-day retreat will begin on Friday.
United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.