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Italians without shelter after quakes damage residences; church destroyed

By Andrew V. Pestano
Italians without shelter after quakes damage residences; church destroyed
Officials in central Italy on Thursday began assessing the damage caused by two earthquakes measuring in magnitudes 6.1 and 5.5 that damaged buildings and injured dozens of people. Photo courtesy the Italian Red Cross

SELLANO, Italy, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Officials in central Italy on Thursday began assessing the damage caused by two earthquakes measuring in magnitudes 6.1 and 5.5 that damaged buildings and injured dozens of people.

Darkness and bad weather previously hampered efforts to assess damage. The 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Sellano in the Macerata province at 7:10 p.m. local time Wednesday, while the 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Visso at 9:18 p.m. local time.

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"I am close with prayer to those affected by the new earthquake in central Italy," Pope Francis said in a statement.

Italian Civil Protection Chief Fabrizio Curci said "tens" of people were hurt but four sustained serious injuries.

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Residents are calling for adequate temporary housing amid cold mountain temperatures and rain. Many people spent the night in their cars. Officials are specifically concerned because the area contains a predominantly elderly population.

"I can say that the city didn't have victims. That means that even if there is a lot of damage probably the reconstruction in the historic center was done in a correct and adequate manner. Because otherwise, we would be speaking of something else," Gianluca Pasqui, mayor of the town of Camerino, told Sky TG24. "We don't have injured, we have people who are very afraid, who have anxiety, especially the elderly."

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Officials have warned that more buildings could collapse, specially if strong aftershocks occur. In the town of Campi, the historic 15th century San Salvatore church was damaged by the first earthquake and destroyed by the second.

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The earthquake's on Wednesday follow the Aug. 24 earthquake, the epicenter of which was near Amatrice, that killed nearly 300 people and injured more than 350.

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