As aftershock hits, residents vow to remain hopeful 'right to the end'

A magnitude 4.3 aftershock in Amatrice Thursday sent frightened people running for open ground and prompted panicked residents to yell angrily at anyone standing close to a building that didn't look stable, the CBC's Margaret Evans reports.

Frightened people in Amitrice run for open ground from magnitude 4.3 quake

Rescuers work amid collapsed building in Amatrice, Italy on Thursday. An aftershock in the town hit a reported 4.3 in magnitude, sending frightened people running for open ground, away from the walls. (Italian Firefighters Vigili del Fuoco via Associated Press)

The tremors that still rumble, even roar, underground are among the hardest things for the earthquake survivors in the town of Amatrice in central Italy to endure.

It is a psychological cruelty. It reminds them of those seconds that stretched into an eternity when the quake that has killed at least 250 people struck on Wednesday.

And it hinders the rescue operations still ongoing as buildings sway and threaten to crumble again and debris rains down from above.

On Thursday an aftershock in the town hit a reported 4.3 in magnitude, sending frightened people running for open ground, away from the walls. People yell angrily at anyone standing close to a building that doesn't look stable.

Our crew was filming when it hit, and a group of mainly young people hurried around the corner through clouds of dust into the centre of the piazza we had gathered in. Some of the men were wearing hard hats and one young woman was clearly both upset and scared.
CBC's Richard Devey captures dramatic footage in the Italian town 0:57

But they walked on and under a flimsy piece of striped tape put up by the police to keep people out of unstable areas. Red zones, they call them.

They were looking for a friend, the group said. The tremor had fazed them, but it didn't stop them from looking.

'The authorities will come to me to let me know'

Others hoping for news of loved ones are more patient.

"The authorities will come to me to let me know," said Alvaro Ciacaglioni, next to an awning he'd pitched for shelter outside his apartment building. 

The building looks in good shape, but there have been hundreds of aftershocks since the earthquake struck in the early hours of Wednesday, and the whole family is now afraid.

Ciacaglioni's brother, his sister-in-law and their two children are still missing.

"Right to the end, we'll be hopeful," he said.  "We have to keep hoping, otherwise it's the end."

"The people who were here and lived through those seconds of terror are still in deep shock and are terribly confused," says Domenico Pompili, the Bishop of Rieti, spotted in the crowds of aid workers and volunteers in Amatrice. 

"The other people who weren't here are living through an equally terrible period in recognizing friends and relatives who died."

The bishop consecrated a church in Amatrice 10 days ago that he says is now gone — "like all the others."

And he confirmed that three nuns who rescue workers had spent much of last night trying to reach in a collapsed convent overlooking the valleys beyond the town, had not survived.

The tremors are constant reminder of just how quickly life can change.

About the Author

Margaret Evans

Europe correspondent

Margaret Evans is a correspondent based in the CBC News London bureau. A veteran conflict reporter, Evans has covered civil wars and strife in Angola, Chad and Sudan, as well as the myriad battlefields of the Middle East.