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Most Powerful Earthquake in Decades Rocks Central Italy

On Sunday morning, yet another, more powerful earthquake struck central Italy near the disaster-plagued town of Norcia, causing untold damage.

The 6.6 magnitude quake was the most forceful in Italy since 1980 and could be felt clearly throughout a 100-mile radius in central Italy, with reports of the quake’s effects as far north as the Veneto region and as far south as Apulia. The quake struck at 7:40am, lasting for several seconds, and was followed by a number of smaller aftershocks.

The town of Norcia, birthplace of Saint Benedict, the 6th-century founder of western monasticism, saw tremendous devastation, and the Basilica bearing the Saint’s name was demolished.

Aleandro Petrucci, the mayor of nearby Arquata del Tronto, said that the entire municipality is in ruins and “now we are no longer a town.”

In Rome, officials closed down the city’s subway system Sunday morning as a precaution, waiting for an assessment on possible structural damage to the facilities.

Sunday’s quake came nearly two months after a major earthquake killed almost 300 people and destroyed several towns in central Italy, and just three days after three consecutive tremors rocked the same area at two-hour intervals.

According to seismologist Alberto Michelini, Sunday’s earthquake “occurred along the same fault system and is part of the sequence that began in August and is now progressing.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter

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