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Northern Italian earthquake damages historic buildings

Building collapses caused by the earthquake which struck north of Bologna, Italy in the early hours of 20 May has claimed the lives of at least seven people, according to local officials.

The magnitude 6 earthquake struck at shallow depths 35km north of Bologna at 4am (local time) on Sunday morning and was followed by a 5.1 magnitude aftershock. The earthquake is the worst in Italy since the 6.3 magnitude event in L’Aquila, central Italy that killed almost 300 people in 2009 but Sunday’s earthquake has been described as the worst in the region since the 1300s.

This latest earthquake killed four people working in industrial buildings – two in a ceramics factory in Sant’Agostino where the whole building collapsed, another was killed by a falling bean at a plastics factory in Ponte Rodoni di Bondeno, and the fourth was killed at a foundry in Tecopress di Dosso where the roof collapsed. The other victims are all thought to have been killed as a result of the collapse of residential buildings.

Officials have reported extensive damage to historic buildings throughout the Emilia Romagna region and work is underway to carry out structural inspections with some buildings already being demolished for safety.

Around 3000 people have been made homeless as a result of the structural damage and the search and rescue operation is ongoing.

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