In Brief

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Italy hit by strongest earthquake in decades 

31 October

Central Ialy is recovering from its most powerful earthquake in decades, after a 6.6-magnitude tremor hit the centre of the country, near Norcia, on Sunday morning. Shocks were felt in Rome and Venice.

Around 20 people were injured, some seriously, and many buildings were destroyed, but no deaths have been reported. At least 15,000 people were forced to sleep in temporary shelters, including cars and tents, overnight.

Many casualties were avoided because people had already fled the area following two smaller shocks last week.

The latest tremor comes less than two months after an earthquake killed almost 300 people and destroyed several towns near Amatrice.

Seismologists are concerned more powerful earthquakes may follow. They believe "August's event broke two neighbouring faults, starting on one known as the Laga and then jumping across to one called the Vettore", says BBC science correspondent Jonathan Amos.

While recent tremors have relieved tension in the upper sections of these faults, "the big question is whether the deeper segments have now failed in the latest event", he says.

Renato Boccardo, the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, said everyone has been "suspended in a never-ending state of fear and stress" and are "at their wits' end".

Infographic by statista.com for TheWeek.co.uk.

Italy rocked by two more earthquakes

27 October

Two powerful earthquakes struck central Italy last night, about 50 miles north of the site of a deadly quake that claimed 300 lives in August. Several people were injured, but no deaths have been reported.

The first tremor, measuring magnitude-5.5, occurred near Visso at 7pm local time, while the second quake, measuring 6.1, took place two hours later and "could be felt strongly in Rome", more than 150 miles away.

The earthquakes caused severe damage to buildings in the area, particularly in the small town of Ussita.

Mayor Marco Rinaldi described scenes of chaos among panicked residents.

"It was a very strong earthquake, apocalyptic. Many houses have collapsed. Our town is finished," he said.

The town of Camerino also suffered significant damage. "Everyone is leaving Camerino by foot or car to seek safety," a witness told the BBC. "Two churches are destroyed and many houses [have] fallen."

The full extent of the damage will be assessed by emergency workers once dawn has broken.

The US Geological Survey says both earthquakes were "relatively shallow" and centred around six miles below the surface.

Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more shaking. When "coupled with sometimes centuries-old infrastructure, as is the case in many of the hilltop towns of Italy, these quakes can cause significant damage", says USA Today.

Two months ago, an earthquake struck the town of Amatrice, 45 miles away, killing more than 300 people.

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