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Two powerful earthquakes struck central Italy Wednesday afternoon, destroying buildings and leaving a scene eerily similar to the region's devastating August quake.

Twin quakes rock central Italy, topple 15th century church


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 9:29 AM - Two powerful earthquakes rocked central Italy Wednesday, devastating buildings and displacing thousands of people, not far from the site of August's devastating quake.

The quakes, rated Magnitude 6.1 and Magnitude 5.5, have not resulted in any reported deaths, unlike August's Magnitude 6.2 tremor, which killed almost 300. However, dozens of people have been reported injured, and Italian broadcaster Rai says one elderly woman suffered a heart attack.

Civil defense official Cesare Spuri told Rai there were "two or three thousand" people displaced. Some had to sleep in cars and other makeshift shelters Wednesday night, though Spuri said officials are trying to arrange hotel accommodations for them.

WATCH BELOW: Drone footage of damage in Macerata, near the epicentre of one of the quakes:

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Rescuers are still combing the region, but the search was hampered overnight by mud and heavy rains. La Repubblica reports the weather had improved by Thursday, though with falling temperatures.

Both quakes struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km, making surface movement and damage more likely, and since then, more than 200 aftershocks have been reported, three of which exceeded Magnitude 4.0.

The result has been major devastation of an area that already suffered through the August earthquake.

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The BBC reports the damage may not be as bad as in August, but it's still a major hit to a region that relies in part on tourism, as well as a psychological blow to people still coping with the aftermath of the August quake.

"We had the illusion that we were going out from 'nightmare' of 24 August and hoped to return to normal," Giuliano Pazzaglini, the mayor of the town of Visso, near one of the latest quakes, told Rai. "There was quite a climate of solidarity, but this new shock has demoralized everyone."

Adding insult to injury, the latest quakes caused the final collapse of the city hall in the community of Amatrice, which had survived the August tremor mostly intact.

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However, the fact there were two quakes may help explain the lower casualty rate: The BBC says the first quake sent people across the region out into the streets, making them less likely to be injured when the second struck.

Authorities are still on high alert. A state of emergency has been declared, and 40 million euros have been set aside for disaster relief.

Extensive damage to regional transportation infrastructure has also been reported. The Via Salaria, a modern highway along the route of an ancient Roman road, was temporarily closed overnight, though Italian police have since reopened one lane. Other highways have also been reopened, but still others remain closed for fear of landslides. 

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SOURCES: USGSRai | La RepubblicaBBC

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