Following an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter Scale that struck central Italy this morning at 7:40 a.m. local time—the fourth to hit this part of the country in three months—a number of structures have collapsed entirely or been severely damaged. While no deaths have been reported at this time, the BBC suggests that twenty people have been injured.
This latest tragedy follows an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale which hit a nearby region in August of this year, killing 300 and causing widespread devastation to towns and villages. It is being suggested that the evacuation of buildings that were deemed vulnerable to the ongoing seismic activity in the region last week may have saved lives.
Structural Damage Near the Epicenter
Reports from its inhabitants verify that the Basilica of St. Benedict and parts of the monastery in Norcia has been almost entirely razed to the ground. Reports suggest that no one has been killed by the collapse.
Structural Damage in Rome
Tremors were felt as far north as Venice, and in nearby Rome – around a 171km road distance from the epicenter of the earthquake. There the Metro system has been shut down as a precautionary measure and a number of iconic, architecturally significant structures—primarily religious—have suffered visible damage.
According to La Repubblica (Roma) a number of cracks have appeared (while existing fissures have expanded) in the fabric of the Basilica of San Paolo Outside the Walls, and cornices have fallen. The Basilica of San Lorenzo was also temporarily closed following fragments of "rubble" falling into the aisles (reports suggest that no one was hurt). The Church of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza (La Sapienza), completed in 1660 to designs by Francesco Borromini, has suffered structural damage to its iconic dome.
Inspections are being carried out at these buildings alongside many more of similar age and significance. The Colosseum and the archeological site of the Roman Forum—both popular tourist attractions due to their historical and architectural value—were fully inspected and were reopened as normal to the public.