Umbria earthquake tourist advice: is it safe to travel?

Can I cancel my trip?

Central Italy has been hit by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake, leaving at least 20 people dead and many more trapped under rubble1.

Where has been hit?

A number of towns and villages in the region of Umbria, about 65 miles north-east of Rome. The mayor of Amatrice, itself in Lazio but one of the worst-affected areas, said: Half the town is gone. A family of four was feared dead under the rubble of their house in the nearby town of Accumoli, while the village of Pescara del Tronto was also hit. Officials say the quake happened at 3.36am local time (1.36am GMT), at a shallow depth of 10km, with some buildings shaking for 20 seconds.

Umbria earthquake locator map2

Are these area popular with tourists?

While some of the towns that have been affected do not stand out on the tourist map, Umbria as a whole is popular with British holidaymakers as Italy s green heart . It was once regarded as the less alluring sister of Tuscany but has raised its profile in recent years, with its intimate and easily-visited hill towns of Perugia (the capital), Assisi, Todi and Norcia contributing to its appeal.

Umbria’s hill-top towns are a popular draw Credit: Fotolia/AP

The mayor of Norcia said that there had been no deaths in the town but that there was damage to the historic heritage and buildings .

Umbria is a region where the food, wine, art, culture and architecture are the equal of any in Italy, writes Telegraph Travel s expert there, Tim Jepson3. It s hard to put your finger on what sets Umbria apart some quality to the light, a haze to the hills, a certain gentleness to landscape but once you ve visited you ll understand, and wonder how this varied and beautiful region ever languished in its neighbour’s shadow.

Secret Italy4

Some three million Britons visit Italy ever year, with the capital Rome, where the earthquake was also felt, high on the priority list for many travellers. The Eternal City is celebrating a Holy Year of Mercy a Roman Catholic festival of repentance this year.

Have airports and roads been affected?

Mayor of Amatrice Sergio Perozzi told state-run radio station RAI that roads in and out of the town were cut off. There s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse, he said. Images showed that the main street through the town had been decimated.

BBC5: It can’t be ruled out that there could be another shock on the same scale as the main one.

Italy s Civil Protection agency has issued advice on what to do if caught in an earthquake:

#Italy An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 has struck Central Italy during the early hours of 24 August https://t.co/HLqtSB4KyV67

FCO travel advice (@FCOtravel) August 24, 20168

If you are indoors

  • Find a shelter under a beam, in the doorway or by a load-bearing wall.
  • Watch out for things that could fall and hit you (plaster, ceilings, windows, furniture, etc.).
  • Pay attention to the stairs: in general they are not very resistant and can be damaged.
  • Avoid taking the lift: it can get stuck.

If you are outdoors

  • Move away from buildings, trees, lampposts, power lines: you could be struck by vases, tiles and other materials that can fall.
  • Pay attention to other possible consequences of the earthquake: collapse of bridges, landslides, gas leaks, etc.

After a quake, it said: “Make sure the state of health of the people around you and, if necessary, be the First Aider. Come out with caution, wearing shoes: you may get hurt in the streets with broken glass. Limit, as much as possible, the use of the phone. Limit the use of the car to avoid obstructing the passage of emergency vehicles. Reach the waiting areas provided by the Civil Protection Plan of your Municipality.”

A dog is rescued from the rubble

The British Foreign Office9 is advising anyone affected to follow the advice of local authorities. It said: If you are in Italy, Civil Protection have activated a hotline 800 840 840 for information.

Can I cancel my trip?

In short, no. But if your trip has been dramatically altered by the earthquakes, then your tour operator will be contractually obliged to provide suitable alternative arrangements or offer a refund.

If you simply want to cancel your trip out of choice, it is unlikely you will be entitled to a refund. Contact your tour operator, accommodation or your insurer to discuss your options.

Are quakes in Italy unusual?

Many parts of Italy lie on a major seismic fault line, the Foreign Office says. Minor tremors and earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence.

Damage from 2009’s L’Aquila earthquake Credit: Getty

In 2009 a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region10, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.

Another quake hit the northern Emilia Romagna region in May 2012, when two violent shocks 10 days apart left 23 people dead and 14,000 others homeless. The Civil Protection agency said: Over the past thousand years, some 3,000 earthquakes have provoked serious and less serious damages. Almost 300 of them (with a magnitude higher than 5,5) had destructive effects and one every ten years has catastrophic effects, with an energy comparable to the L Aquila earthquake of 2009.

Deadly earthquakes over five years11

“Any Italian municipality can be affected by earthquake effects, but the strongest earthquakes are focused in the following areas: Northern-Eastern Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto), Western Liguria, Northern Apennines (from Garfagnana to the Rimini area), and, above all, across the Central and Southern Apennines, in Calabria and Eastern Sicily.

In the wake of the 2009 earthquake, the Italian government launched a national plan to combat the effects of seismic activity.

References

  1. ^ a magnitude 6.2 earthquake, leaving at least 20 people dead and many more trapped under rubble (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ Umbria earthquake locator map (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  3. ^ writes Telegraph Travel s expert there, Tim Jepson (www.discountholidays.info)
  4. ^ Secret Italy (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)
  5. ^ BBC (www.bbc.co.uk)
  6. ^ #Italy (twitter.com)
  7. ^ https://t.co/HLqtSB4KyV (t.co)
  8. ^ August 24, 2016 (twitter.com)
  9. ^ British Foreign Office (www.gov.uk)
  10. ^ In 2009 a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region (www.discountholidays.info)
  11. ^ Deadly earthquakes over five years (cf-particle-html.eip.discountholidays.info)

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