By Isla Lamont
A 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy on October 30, as reported by The Washington Post. No deaths were reported, although 300 people were killed when an earthquake struck the same area in August. The lack of injuries was credited to residents in historic town centers having been moved preemptively after experiencing tremors earlier in the week. Residents and university students are still banned from returning to their homes.
The biggest toll affected the historical infrastructure of the area. Churches and other landmarks were badly damaged. In Preci, the fifth-century Abbey of St. Euticius was crushed by a hilltop cemetery breaking through its walls. In Arquata del Tronto, a thirteenth-century church dedicated to St. Francis was destroyed. Norcia also saw three important churches heavily damaged.
Perhaps the most valuable of all the history lost was the fourteenth-century Basilica of St. Benedict of Nursia and Cathedral of St. Mary Argentea. The gothic buildings had already been damaged by previous earthquakes, and are now completely collapsed, except for the façades. 110 miles away, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was damaged as well, with façade cracks and crumbling cornices. Multiple reconstruction projects from August’s earthquake were thwarted as any remaining structures were once again leveled.
The magnitude of the most recent earthquake was registered between a 6.5 and 6.6 on the Richter scale, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. The Washington Post reported that the entire length of the Italian boot was affected. The regions of Le Marche and Umbria were most heavily impacted.
This was the strongest earthquake Italy has seen in 36 years. In 1980, a 6.9 magnitude convulsion struck the heel of the boot and killed 3,000 people.
Near the epicenter, religious figures and citizens gathered together to kneel in Norcia’s piazza and pray. As reported by The Local, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has vowed that Italy will rebuild all homes, churches, and the other damaged structures. National identity and cultural heritage remain at the forefront of the prime minister’s concerns.
Reconstruction efforts are already in the planning stage, and will begin after all the tremors have stopped. Fabio Carapezza Guttuso, head of the Ministry of Culture’s national crisis management unit office, explained the process, as reported by The Washington Post. The rubble is not thrown away in Italy. Everything, including single stones, along with big pieces of wood, iron, and beams, is numbered and used later on in the reconstruction. Archaeologists are employed to sift through the ruins, as it is a very large and important task.