Europe

Italy earthquake: Should you stay or should you go?

Collapsed buildings are seen following an earthquake in Campi Alto near Norcia, Italy, October 30, 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many historical buildings collapsed during Sunday's earthquake near Norcia

Italy's strongest earthquake in decades, which rocked the country's central region on Sunday, has left many residents considering: is it better to stay or to go?

The quake was the fourth to hit the area in three months and devastated some areas.

Local authorities in some villages have urged people to leave as temperatures continue to drop, according to Italian newspaper La Stampa.

But many of the residents who own livestock are refusing to go, as it would mean abandoning their animals.

"What left is there to do? Who will look after them?" one man asked.

La Repubblica said some people refusing to leave devastated areas had demanded tents from the local authorities "so that no-one is forced to stay in their car".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The basilica of St Benedict in Norcia was destroyed

A Benedictine monastic community in Norcia, one of the hardest hit towns, has also chosen to stay. The members say they want to "be present for the people of Norcia".

The monks were working hard to rebuild from the damage of the previous quake. But tremors near the city on Thursday rendered the monastery uninhabitable, according to a statement on its website.

"Unfortunately, [the earthquake] has brought many of the townspeople to the brink of despair and more damage than any of us can yet assess.

"As before, we are busy at work trying to respond to the crisis on multiple levels."

On Sunday, Norcia's local basilica, which was undergoing repairs, was destroyed.

'Swinging side to side'

For others, the uncertainty and devastation caused by the quakes has pushed them out of central Italy.

Andrew Shearn, a resident in Amandola, relocated to Milan over the weekend and says he will stay there "until it stops". He said that, luckily, he could work from the northern city.

"People are scared. Anyone who has an alternative has left the area. People are ready to start rebuilding, but they are too apprehensive until [the earthquakes] stops.

He told the BBC he was cleaning up his house from the previous earthquake when the latest one hit.

"I was standing outside my house taking in the view when the tremors started.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some people are choosing to stay put

"It's incredible that something built with stone walls can just swing side to side. Tiles flew off my roof. And the noise - there's this low, deep-down noise in your head, all around."

He says the older people have been most affected by the disaster: "I was talking to an 80-year-old woman - she has lived here her whole life and has never seen anything like this.

"It's hard to deal with as a human - it's hard to react, apart from tears.

"If another quake happens, I think the damage would be immense."

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