Italy quake: Scenes of 'confusion and shock'

Rescuers look through rubble Image copyright Croce Rossa Italiana

Survivors of a powerful earthquake in Italy have described the horror of the moment it struck, wiping out towns and leaving dozens of people dead.

One witness described "screaming women looking for their children" while another said it felt like "being on a ship passing through a storm".

Many of those killed were in Accumoli, close to the epicentre, and in Amatrice, which was largely reduced to rubble by the magnitude 6.2 earthquake which struck the centre of the country.

Gianni Palotta, Accumoli

I am from Leonessa, which is about 12km [7.5 miles] from one of the worst affected areas, Accumoli.

This morning, I was awoken by the earthquake, which was very strong.

I got in my car and drove to Accumoli to see if I could help, as I knew it would be very bad.

I arrived in Accumoli, and it was a very shocking scene.

All the houses had collapsed.

Image copyright Sergio Casagrande/Corriere dell'Umbria

I saw dead bodies lying in the street, and there were injured people walking around with blood on their legs and the rest of their bodies.

There were screaming women looking for their husbands and children.

There were neighbours coming down on to the street trying to help.

Rescue teams arrived very quickly by helicopter and told me and others trying to help to stand back.

They told us to come back with blankets and supplies, which I am doing.

I might give blood this afternoon if needed.

The whole situation was very confusing and distressing.

Stefano Sbrulli, Amatrice, Rieti province

Image copyright Stefano Sbrulli

I am a freelance photographer from Monteleone Sabino in Rieti. Early this morning, after the earthquake struck, I drove for about two hours and reached Amatrice at 0500.

I immediately found myself confronted by dramatic scenes.

The town is completely devastated. There is no electricity and no phones are working.

It looked like there had been a bombing. Around 95% of the houses had collapsed.

I spoke with 10 people who looked completely shocked. Most of them had lost someone.

There are so many destroyed houses that I'm afraid they won't find many survivors.

Victoria Rutter, Norcia, Perugia province

Image copyright Nicole Ramadori/Radio1Rai

I'm staying with my husband and two small children in a hillside campsite north of Norcia.

About 03:30, the cabin we're staying in started shaking.

It was very disorientating and scary being woken in pitch darkness by the ground violently shaking and people screaming.

We thought we were sliding down the hillside to begin with.

I've never seen so many people wandering around a campsite in the early hours.

My children are quite shaken up, but we're safe here thankfully, although we keep feeling aftershocks.

My heart goes out to those who are just a few kilometres down the road.

We are going to venture out and see if we can give blood, as there is an appeal for people to do so.

My husband and I have experienced an earthquake in Bali and aftershocks across Asia before, but this was the worst by far that we've experienced.

Lorenzo Meusburger, Campello sul Clitunno, Perugia province

I am currently living in Campello sul Clitunno, a small village about a 30-minute drive from the epicentre.

After the first strong quake, at 03:30, the Earth beneath me felt as if it was in constant movement for at least another hour.

I ran outside out of fear the house could collapse.


My elderly grandmother was in a different part of the building but is immobile so could not get out, and I was very worried about her.

When I could, I went back in to get her out.

The ground felt as if it was a ship that was crossing rough waters or passing through a storm.

The house is OK, but lots of things are broken.

There were lots of aftershocks and another small quake at around 05:00.

Things in the house were shaking and swinging all the time.

Paolo Owens, Amandola, Fermo province

Image copyright Paolo Owens
Image caption The Owens' house before and after the earthquake

I was sitting in front of the TV at 03:30. I'd felt tremors before and wasn't too concerned at first. Then the TV fell of the wall.

The cupboards started opening and bits of the ceiling were coming down.

I ran into my sister's bedroom. She was being very slow so I lifted her out of bed. I woke up my mother and we got out of the house fast.

When we got outside, we saw the back wall of the kitchen had fallen down and the foundations under my sister's bedroom had given way.

We got into the car to try and get away but the road was blocked by a house that had collapsed.

We had to drive back towards our house and stop in a field. We spent all morning there until they cleared the roads.

We were due to go back to the UK, where we're from, on Thursday anyway, but we've decided to leave today.

Image copyright Paolo Owens

Additional reporting by Thomas Fabbri, Zak Brophy and Patrick Evans.

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