Northern Ireland

Italy earthquake: Belfast eyewitness describes fear

Rescuers carry a person on a stretcher following the quake in Amatrice,, Italy (24 August 2016) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The earthquake struck as most people were asleep

A Northern Ireland woman has described her fear and confusion at being caught up in Wednesday's earthquake in Italy.

At least 247 people are known to have died in the quake that devastated villages in mountainous central Italy.

Lucie McLaughlin from Belfast has been working as an au-pair in Spello, 65km (40 miles) from the epicentre.

She told BBC Radio Ulster all the objects in her bedroom "were just tipping from side to side. It was absolutely such a strange experience".

Dozens are believed trapped in ruined Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, in .

The search went on through the night, with more than 4,300 rescuers using heavy lifting equipment and their bare hands.

'Really scared'

Ms McLaughlin described how her door and window shutters banged open and closed during the quake.

"I was trying to get to the light switch," she said. "I was holding on to the bed, it was moving quite a lot from side to side."

The au-pair added: "I was really saddened to hear this morning of the deaths that the earthquake caused and the destruction closer to the epicentre."

The magnitude 6.2 earthquake left at least 73 people dead and many more missing, as rescuers searched for survivors.

Many of the dead were in Accumoli, close to the epicentre, and a short distance away in Amatrice, which was largely reduced to rubble.

The village of Pescara del Tronto was levelled to the ground and the number of dead was expected to rise.

The quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome.

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