Central Italy trembled Wednesday because of the cold and because of fear amid a fresh series of earthquakes. Almost five months since the beginning of a seismic crisis that is literally breaking the region, scientists recorded three tremors stronger than 5 magnitude on the Richter scale — all between the hour of 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. — plus dozens of less intense aftershocks.
The epicenter was north of Abruzzo, where there was one dead, one missing and a drama played out at the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, which was hit by an avalanche. By Friday evening, dozens were feared dead, with as many as 30 people still missing and presumably buried. A snowstorm slowed the relief effort and disrupted communications.
But the earthquake was felt practically everywhere, even in the provinces of Ascoli, Fermo and Rieti, with building collapses, infrastructure disruptions and enormous difficulties in performing damage surveys. The mountain roads are almost all blocked because of the snow, and reaching the most isolated areas is an almost impossible undertaking. The municipalities officially involved are nine: Capitignano, Campotosto, Cagnato Amiterno, Pizzo and Barets in the province of L’Aquila; Borbona, Cittareale and Accumoli in the province of Rieti; with damage recorded also in the Leacho, between Arquata del Tronto, Acquasanta Terme, Montemonaco and Roccafluvione.
The commissioner for reconstruction Vasco Errani ensures crews are working “belly to the ground to secure the people,” but operations were greatly slowed by bad weather.