May 21, 2012 – ITALY – The epicentre of the 6.0-magnitude quake was in the province of Modena, but it was felt from Venice to Milan. It has left thousands homeless and reduced historic buildings in cities including Bologna and Verona to rubble. The quake hit in the early hours of Sunday (local time) as people were sleeping, sending terrified residents running into the street. “I am 83 and I have never felt anything like this,” Lina Gardenghi said in the town of Bondeno, near Ferrara. The quake was followed by a series of jolting aftershocks, sparking the evacuation of 3,000 people.
At least two of the tremors reached magnitude-5.1, sowing fresh panic, further damaging already weakened buildings and causing more structures to collapse. The tremors were more deadly than any since 2009, when the central city of L’Aquila was devastated. Two of the dead suffered heart attacks, while one woman was crushed under a building that collapsed. The other four victims were night-shift workers in factories which collapsed, including two who were crushed when the roof of a ceramics factory caved in the town of Sant’Agostino. “He wasn’t supposed to be there,” the mother of one of the victims said. “He changed shifts with a friend who wanted to go to the beach.” Emergency workers are sifting through the rubble of collapsed buildings, searching for victims.
Thousands of residents in towns around Ferrara have sought shelter in a gymnasium after being evacuated. “We will sleep here even if they don’t bring us beds or anything. At least it’s safe,” one man called Angelo said. He said his house shook so hard it was impossible to flee from it. “When we were got on the street, it was like we were at sea, the ground was shaking,” he said. British tourist David Trew was in the town of Ferrara when the quake struck.
“I woke up to what I initially thought was thunder, but of course the deep rumbling was accompanied by violent shaking of the room, with plaster falling onto my head and all around me,” he said. “I’ve never experienced an earthquake before, you know, frankly I was absolutely terrified.” Prime Minister Mario Monti cut short his trip to the United States and said the cabinet would declare a state of emergency, freeing up funds for quake relief. –ABC News