Italy Quake: Famous Village 'Isn’t Here Any More'

Amatrice, a village famous for its beauty and pasta dishes made with amatriciana sauce, has been destroyed by the 6.2-magnitude quake that hit central Italy.

The devastating earthquake that hit central Italy has levelled to the ground the town of Amatrice in central Italy, authorities said.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake hit at 3:36 a.m. local time near Norcia, rattling villages up to Rome, which is roughly 100 miles away.

The Italian Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology said the quake had its epicenter at a depth of about 6 miles in a wooded area near the Lazio village of Accumuli.

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"The intensity is comparable to the earthquake that hit the Aquila region in 2009," Fabrizio Curcio, head of the Civil Protection Agency, said. That quake killed more than 300 people.

So far 38 people have been reported dead, but the death toll is not final.

"There are people still under the rubble, so we fear that this number could rise further," Immacolata Postiglione, head of emergency services for Italy's Civil Protection Agency, told reporters.

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Amatrice and Accumoli appear to be the hardest-hit places.

"Amatrice is not here anymore, half of the town is destroyed," Sergio Pirozzi, mayor of Amatrice, told RAI News24.

"People are stuck underneath the rubble. Houses are no longer there," he added.

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Built on a rocky spur, Amatrice was listed in 2015 as one of Italy's most beautiful villages. It is home to 14th century churches which house several religious artworks.

However, to most Italians, the town conjures up images of spaghetti and bucatini made with the famous amatriciana sauce that was invented here.

One of Rome's most popular pasta dishes, amatriciana was even served to Popes. Its ingredients include chopped bacon, fresh tomatoes, pecorino cheese, white wine, pepper and chilli.

A festival celebrating the dish was scheduled to take place in the town this weekend.

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The town is not new to devastating earthquakes. Historic records report that "Amatrice and nearby villages were savaged by an earthquake in 1639."

Oddly, the day of Amatrice's destruction coincides with another catastrophic event. Exactly 1937 years ago, on August 24th, Mount Vesuvius began to erupt, burying Pompeii under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice.