Italy Quake Kills 15 People in North of Country

Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake Kills at Least 10 in Northern Italy
Rescuers stand by a factory which collapsed during an earthquake in Mirandola. Photographer: Pierre Teyssot/AFP/Getty Images

Italy was struck by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 15 people in the northern region of Emilia Romagna, the second fatal temblor in the country this month.

The quake, which came after one of a similar magnitude that killed seven people on May 20, hit the province of Modena at 9 a.m., the Civil Protection Agency said on its website. Seven people are missing and about 200 were injured, Antonio Catricala, Italy’s Cabinet Undersecretary, told Parliament.

About 8,000 people were evacuated today, bringing the total to about 14,000 in the two earthquakes this month, Catricala said. The severest damage was reported near the epicenter surrounding towns including Cavezzo, Medolla and Mirandola, Emilia Romagna’s administration said in a statement.

The quake was felt throughout northern Italy, including the financial capital Milan, where some buildings and schools were evacuated, and as far south as Tuscany and Umbria. The Italian government “will do everything necessary to respond” to the emergency,” Prime Minister Mario Monti said in Rome. The Cabinet will review emergency funding at a meeting tomorrow.

“Emilia Romagna won’t be left alone,” said Vasco Errani, head of the regional government, who was meeting with Monti in Rome when today’s earthquake struck. June 4 has been declared a day of mourning for the victims, Catricala said.

Two of today’s victims were in San Felice sul Panaro, where three towers of the town’s 15th-century castle collapsed in the May 20 quake, Ansa reported. Two factories in the cities of Mirandola and Medolla were reduced to rubble, and rescuers are digging in the area, Ansa said.

Toppled Buildings

Three aftershocks ranging from 4.9 magnitude to 5.3 magnitude hit the area about 1 p.m., according to the Italian Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute.

Fiat SpA’s sports-car makers Ferrari SpA, based in Maranello near Modena, and Maserati SpA suspended operations at their factories in the region today, Fiat Chairman John Elkann said. Motorcycle maker Ducati Motor Holding SpA, also based in the region, said on Twitter that the company shut down business after the quake.

The May 20 disaster, centered near the town of Finale Emilia, toppled buildings across the region, including two factories where four workers were killed. About 6,000 survivors of that temblor sought relief in tent cities set up by rescue workers. SkyTG24 broadcast images of people fleeing tents in Finale Emilia during today’s quake.

The fatalities in the May 20 disaster prompted Monti to leave a NATO summit in Chicago early to return to Italy. Tonight’s soccer match in Parma between the national teams of Italy and Luxembourg was canceled after today’s quake, Ansa said.

Seismic Areas

The damage caused by the two quakes was estimated at about 500 million euros for the agriculture industry in the region, trade association Coldiretti said. The estimate includes the destruction of farm equipment and buildings and damage to the country’s prized Parmesan cheese. A 39-kilo wheel of the cheese aged for 24 months can retail for more than 700 euros.

Some train lines in the impacted areas were suspended to check the stability of the infrastructure, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA said in a statement. Circulation is almost fully restored, it said in a later statement.

Italy suffers about 2,000 earthquakes a year with more than 3 million people living in seismic areas, according to the National Council of Geologists. Almost half of Italy’s territory is at risk of a quake, with more than 6 million buildings in the affected seismic areas, the group said.

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