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Central Italian towns remember victims one year after deadly earthquake

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Central Italian towns remember victims one year after deadly earthquake
A photo taken on August 23rd, 2017, shows the remains of Amatrice. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
12:03 CEST+02:00
Residents in Amatrice, the town worst hit by a fatal earthquake one year ago today, gathered to mourn the neighbours and friends they lost in the disaster.

At exactly 3:36 am on Thursday, the town clock in Amatrice rang 249 times - once for each of the people who died at that moment in the devastating earthquake one year ago. 

The 6.0 magnitude quake which ripped through communities in the rugged, hilly region in the early hours of August 24th, 2016, claimed a total of 299 lives across the region and still haunts the country.

The disaster razed much of Amatrice, prompting mayor Sergio Pirozzi to say "the town isn't there anymore".

Just before midnight, residents paid their respects to each of the victims by reading out their names as well as an anecdote about their life in a two-hour ceremony punctuated by applause.

They then gathered for a silent candlelit march which began at the local football pitch, where last year's mass funerals were held, which wound its way through the streets where many houses still lie in ruins.

Mayor Pirozzi also unveiled a memorial to the dead called Fidelis Amatrix, after the words engraved on an ancient local coin.

READ ALSO: A hotel in a quake-devastated Italian town has been named the 'world's best'

Other villages and hamlets where a further 60 people died were set to hold their own ceremonies later on Thursday, with memorials planned in Accumoli, Arquata del Tronto and Pescara del Tronto.

Amatrice was observing a day of mourning on Thursday with locals joining a mass late morning which was also attended by Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The quake devastated a huge area, causing damage to homes, schools, hospitals and churches costing an estimated 23.55 billion euros ($27.7 billion).

Three more violent quakes hit the same region in late October as well as one in mid-January, that contributed to a deadly avalanche at a hotel that left 29 people dead.

On Monday, a 4.0-magnitude quake levelled several houses on Ischia, an island off Naples, killing two people.

READ MORE: Why quake-hit Amatrice in Italy will never be the same again

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