A magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck four kilometres from the southeastern town of Montecilfone, a village of 1,348 people, in the region of Molise, on the night of August 16th just after 8pm, according to Italy's National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV), which monitors seismic activity.
More than 90,000 people live within 20 kilometres of the epicentre, according to INGV.
“We felt a very strong shake,” Montecilfone's mayor, Franco Pallotta, told Italian daily Repubblica. The mayor added that he was touring homes to assess the damage.In Campomarino, a small town of just over 7,000 people situated 15 kilometres from the epicentre, residents left their homes and were encouraged to gather in the main square by Italy's civil defence coordination department.
No casualties have yet been reported, although the Civil Protection Department, which coordinates relief in such natural disasters, is still investigating.
“The necessary checks are in progress for any damage to people or things,” it said in a statement
, adding in a subsequent communiqué
that “minor damage” had been recorded. The mayors in the nearby towns are verifying any buildings vulnerable to seismic activity and ensuring assistance to the local population.
“At the moment there are no requests for assistance, nor have collapses been reported to the operating rooms of the fire department. The teams that went out on reconnaissance have found, for the moment, only the fall of some cornices,” tweeted Italy's fire department regarding the main earthquake in Molise.
The mayor of Aquaviva Collecroce, another town near the epicentre of the larger earthquake in the province of Molise, communicated on Facebook that the town's football pitch had been made available for residents to sleep at.
“I urgently need technicians to assess the damage,” wrote Francesco Trolio, Aquaviva Collecroce's mayor on August 16th.
“The area is little known from the seismic point of view due to a limited documentation of historical seismicity,” writes INGV in its statement.
A 2.6 magnitude earthquake was also registered nine kilometres from Ancona on Friday August 17th on the coast in the province of Le Marche. No one was hurt and no damage was reported, according
to Ancona local daily Il Corriere Adriatico. Six other small earthquakes have so far been recorded in the regions of Molise and Le Marche today.
More than 20 other quakes ranging between 2 and 3.1 magnitude were recorded by INGV since the morning of Thursday August 16th in the two regions.
Much of the fear local residents are feeling is due to recent earthquakes that have devastated nearby regions in central Italy. On August 24th, 2016, 297 people died when a magnitude 6.0 earthquake destroyed much of the town of Amatrice
An earthquake in the Umbrian town of Norcia in October of the same year destroyed much of the city centre, but somehow miraculously no one was hurt.
In August 2017, two people died when an earthquake struck the southern island of Ischia
. Two strong earthquakes
also occurred in the provinces of Molise – where the latest shock has been felt – and Abruzzo in April this year.