On 18 January 2017, the central regions of Italy were struck by four earthquakes in a row with magnitudes ranging from 5 to 5.3. They were followed by a series of more than 80 additional quakes to date, of lower strength.
The tremors came after some 36 hours of steady snowfall in the mountainous areas of Amatrice and Norcia. Heavy snowing and cold temperatures continued up to 25 January when weather conditions have started to improve with gradual melting of the snow. The frequency and intensity of new quakes has also decreased.
As a result of the earthquake, on 18 January 2017, an avalanche hit Hotel Rigopiano di Farindola, in Farindola town (central Abruzzo region) burying it completely under snow and causing it to collapse. A total of 29 people (15 women and 14 men) have fallen victim to the event, while 11 people have survived and been rescued. As no more people are reported missing, the search and rescue activities have now terminated.
Red Cross and Red Crescent action
The Italian Red Cross special search and rescue teams as well as staff, volunteers and special experts have continued the search and rescue, relief item distribution and other activities since 23 January 2017. Together with the Italian Civil Protection, more than 9,300 people have been delivering assistance to local populations in need and 3,400 vehicles have been deployed over the past four days, including 293 staff and volunteers and 109 vehicles from the Red Cross.
With the improvement of the weather conditions and the decrease of risk of further earthquakes and avalanches, the Italian Red Cross special search and rescue teams as well as staff, volunteers and special experts have started to gradually demobilize. Ten remaining helicopters continue to monitor the situation on the mountains and the level of avalanche risk (being currently at level 3). Assessment teams remain in the areas affected by earthquakes to ensure continuous access to basic items and services. There is also ongoing support maintained for the farms and food distribution to the animals.
To date, the Italian Red Cross, in close collaboration with the Italian Civil Protection have assisted a total of 14,576 people throughout the earthquakes and extreme weather events. The Italian Red Cross and IFRC will continue to follow and assess the weather situation in the remaining weeks of the winter to be prepared to provide further assistance in case of need.