On the 24th August 2016, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake was recorded in Italy. leaving the local population devastated. The earthquake hit Amatrice, located in northern Lazio, at 3:36am killing at least 300 people and injuring hundreds. Nearby towns, Accumdi and Arquata del Tronto, also suffered damage and loss of life.
Europe’s Sentinel radar satellites recorded the ground movement during the quake. The data shows subsistence of up to 23cm (9in) as a 20km-long fault raptured in the Apennine mountains. An Interferometric Synthetic Radar (InSAR) map is used to study the data and is made by orbiting satellites observing the condition of ground pre and post-earthquake. Dr Richard Walters of Durham University, creator of the map, commented: “The fault that ruptured was around 20km long. The average slip at depth on the fault was about half a metre, but is concentrated in two major patches, which probably means two separate fault segments ruptured together.”
The size of the fault means that at least 470 aftershocks have hit the area since August 24th, with some reaching a 5.1 magnitude on the Richter Scale.
According to experts, 70% of Italy’s buildings fail to meet the anti-seismic standards, despite the country experiencing eight earthquakes in the past 40 years, resulting in the near-destruction of several towns and villages and great loss of life.
It took 12 hours for bulldozers and earthmovers to respond and navigate up cracked roads. Hundreds of rescue crews were sent to help those affected by the natural disaster, including a six-man team of firefighters from the Vatican.
Efforts are being made to help victims of the earthquake, as tent cities and kitchens are catering for approximately 1,200 citizens who cannot return to their homes because of impending aftershocks.
However, some sense of hope was restored when a girl, 10, was rescued from the rubble in Pescara del Tronto, after being trapped upside down for 17 hours following the tremor.
The Mayor of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, was emotional when responding to the quake and consequent loss of life saying it is “even more dreadful than we feared, with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life”.
Eighty percent of Amatrice’s historic town centre has been destroyed according to Orlando Sandro, a regional councillor, who explained that the foundations of buildings that had not collapsed were weakened to the point where they had to be taken down.
The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, emphasised that rescuing survivors was the priority for the next few days and demonstrated the resilience needed in this tough time: “No family, no city, no hamlet will be left alone.”
Pope Francis prayed for the fallen and survivors in St Peterís Square, Rome, where tens of thousands gathered to show their support.