Quake levels Italian town

  • This two-picture combo shows cracks along the side of Mount Vettore, central Italy, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, bottom, and a picture of Mount Vettore taken on Aug. 21, 2016, top. Earthquake aftershocks gave central Italy no respite on Tuesday, haunting a region where thousands of people were left homeless and frightened by a massive weekend tremor that razed centuries-old towns. (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP, AP Photo/Simona Polimeni) Massimo Percossi/Simona Polimeni

  • A view of Castelluccio di Norcia, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Earthquake aftershocks gave central Italy no respite on Tuesday, haunting a region where thousands of people were left homeless and frightened by a massive weekend tremor that razed centuries-old towns. (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP) Massimo Percossi

  • Firefighters carry artwork rescued from the Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr (San Lorenzo Martire), in Norcia, central Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Earthquake aftershocks gave central Italy no respite on Tuesday, haunting a region where thousands of people were left homeless and frightened by a massive weekend tremor that razed centuries-old towns. (Vigil del Fuoco Italian firefighters via AP) ITALIAN FIRE FIGHTERS

  • Destruction near Arquata del Tronto, Italy, on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

  • A sign reading in Italian "Welcome to the Fairies village" lies amidst rubble in the village of Pretare, near Arquata del Tronto, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Earthquake aftershocks gave central Italy no respite on Tuesday, haunting a region where thousands of people were left homeless and frightened by a massive weekend tremor that razed centuries-old towns. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi) Sandro Perozzi

  • A firefighter walks past rubble in the village of Pretare, near Arquata del Tronto, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Earthquake aftershocks gave central Italy no respite on Tuesday, haunting a region where thousands of people were left homeless and frightened by a massive weekend tremor that razed centuries-old towns. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi) Sandro Perozzi

  • The remains of a house in the village of Pretare, near Arquata del Tronto, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. Earthquake aftershocks gave central Italy no respite on Tuesday, haunting a region where thousands of people were left homeless and frightened by a massive weekend tremor that razed centuries-old towns. (AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi) Sandro Perozzi

  • The marble bricks of a column holding a street lamp are visibly misaligned after Sunday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake misaligned some of its marble blocks, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. The quake, the strongest to hit Italy in 36 years, caused damages to buildings and monuments in Rome and forced the temporary closure of some of the city's most important tourist sites on Sunday. (AP Photo/Giulia Sabella) Giulia Sabella

  • Cracks on the ceiling of the Saint Eustace church are seen after Sunday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake, in Rome, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. The quake, the strongest to hit Italy in 36 years, caused damages to buildings and monuments in Rome and forced the temporary closure of some of the city's most important tourist sites on Sunday. (AP Photo/Giulia Sabella) Giulia Sabella

  • Cracks on the ceiling of the Saint Eustace church are seen a day after Sunday's 6.6 magnitude earthquake, in Rome, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. The quake, the strongest to hit Italy in 36 years, caused damages to buildings and monuments in Rome and forced the temporary closure of some of the city's most important tourist sites on Sunday. (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP) Angelo Carconi

Published: 11/1/2016 10:11:51 PM

CASTELLUCCIO DI NORCIA, Italy — Some houses are collapsed outright, pancaked piles of stones and plaster. A pair of skis stick out. Some are cracked open neatly, exposing living rooms frozen in time.

The central Italian mountain village of Castelluccio di Norcia, among the most heavily hit by Sunday’s earthquake, is known for the beautiful blossoms of its lentil fields and its historic charm. Now it’s a ghost town.

With the roads cut off, almost all of the 300 inhabitants were evacuated by helicopter. They all survived after an earlier quake in August prompted them to move into safer housing like camper vans or containers.

But a small group of 13 hardy souls refuses to leave. Mostly farmers, they want to stay close to their cattle, sheep and horses — their livelihood, without which they would truly have nothing left to come back for.

“Practically we’ve returned to the stone age,” said Augusto Coccia, 65.

The 6.6-magnitude tremor, the country’s most powerful in 36 years, pulled down buildings and historic churches in villages across the Appenine mountains. In Castelluccio, the ground is now as much as 70 centimeters (two feet) lower, according to the national geophysics institute.

This town’s plight was worsened by the fact that the roads were cut off. Rescue helicopters brought in the bare necessities — food and water — on Sunday but little else.

Coccia and the others who stayed behind cook under the open sky with gas canisters. They have no heating, electricity or constant water supply. The temperature drops to as low as minus 6 Celsius (20 Fahrenheit) at night.

“The medical supplies were delivered to us today. It’s been three days since we requested them but it’s very hard to get them to us,” he said.

Besides helicopter, the only way to get to Castelluccio is by four-by-four through an hour and a half of rough terrain. Some residents of the area made the trip, as did forest rangers, with whom The Associated Press traveled.

Among those making their way to Castelluccio on Tuesday was Vincenzo Brandimarte, 63. He had recently built an inn here using modern earthquake-resistant planning — and it was one of the very few buildings that did not collapse or crack.

As of Tuesday, 15,000 people from the region some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Rome were being given shelter. That’s on top of 2,000 who remain displaced from a first quake in August, which left 300 dead.




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