Thousands homeless after biggest quake since 1980

Over 700 aftershocks, new faultline opened up

(ANSA) - Rome, October 31 - Thousands of people are homeless after Sunday's 6.5-magnitude earthquake near Norcia rocked central Italy.
    Premier Matteo Renzi's cabinet was due to meet on Monday to assess the damage of the new quake, which compounded the already difficult situation in an area devastated by earthquakes on August 24 and October 26.
    It was the biggest quake to hit Italy since the 6.8-magnitude one in the Irpinia area of Campania in 1980.
    There are no reports of anyone being killed in Sunday's quake, even though it was stronger than the August one that claimed almost 300 lives.
    Aftershocks continued throughout the night in the Norcia area, the biggest being a 4.2-magnitude tremor registered by the National Institute of Geophysics (INGV) at 2:27.
    More than 700 aftershocks had occurred by lunchtime Monday, INGV said, adding that a faultline opened in the central Apennines in August had been aggravated by the quake that struck at 7:40 Sunday, flattening the Basilica of St Benedict in Norcia and wreaking havoc across central Italy.
    "There is a quite possibly contagion effect," INGV explained. Civil protection authorities on Monday continued to provide assistance to the stricken population, with over 15,000 people having found temporary shelter in hotels and other structures in the Marche region.
    There were fears that the total number of homeless from the four quakes - one on August 24, two on October 26 and one on October 30 - had now risen to as high as 100,000.
    The quake was felt as far afield as Venice and Rome, where the Basilica of St Paul Outside The Walls was closed after suffering some cracks.
    Rome's Ponte Mazzini bridge was also closed as a precautionary measure, but reopened to traffic after lunchtime Monday.
    Five families were moved out of their homes in the capital as a precautionary measure.
    Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said prefabricated wooden homes would be put up as soon as possible in the areas affected by the fresh quakes, which struck near the borders of Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo.