Loudspeakers Announce End of Earthquake Alert
BARGA, Italy (AP) _ Civil defense officials on Friday lifted an earthquake alert, and thousands of residents of 14 mountain villages who had fled in panic two days earlier returned home.
The officials said they had determined that the risk of a devastating earthquake in the central Italian area had passed.
The alert, the first of its kind in Italy, had been in effect for 48 hours in eight Tuscan villages in the Apennine Mountains and six villages of neighboring Modena province.
After receiving news of the end of the alert, Barga Mayor Alessandro Adami sent out a fleet of trucks equipped with loudspeakers to announce that the alert had ended. The Tuscan town is located about 22 miles northeast of Pisa.
Officials in other villages relayed word to schools, makeshift tent cities and even railroad sidings where people had been staying since the alert began. Civil defense officials estimated that 100,000 people fled their homes shortly after state-run RAI television broadcast the earthquake warning for the villages Wednesday night.
Police, fire fighters and civil defense officials began dismantling the makeshift shelters throughout the region, and reported that residents began returning to their homes in late morning.
A statement issued by Civil Defense Minister Giuseppe Zamberletti said the alert was lifted at 11 a.m. in the absence of new indications that a quake might be imminent.
The warning was issued after a moderate tremor shook the area Wednesday. Another stronger tremor was reported Thursday.