‘Cracks appeared, the electricity went off’ – Letchworth holidaymaker tells of Italian earthquake drama

Firefighters clear rubble in Amatrice, Italy, on Monday, four days after the earthquake hit. Photo:

Firefighters clear rubble in Amatrice, Italy, on Monday, four days after the earthquake hit. Photo: AP/Antonio Calanni - Credit: AP

A Letchworth holidaymaker who was staying less than 30 miles from the epicentre of last week’s Italian earthquake has said the disaster ‘reminds us of the power of nature’.

Simon Hales from Letchworth and the rest of the group take shelter under the stars after the earthqu

Simon Hales from Letchworth and the rest of the group take shelter under the stars after the earthquake. - Credit: Archant

Simon Hales, 59, was awoken at 3.36am on Wednesday morning last week by the massive noise of the villa walls shaking.

“We were all awoken abruptly by the thunderous noise, and a light fitting smashed on the floor,” Simon told the Comet.

“Cracks appeared in the walls. The electricity went off immediately, which on reflection was just as well in case the gas supply had been affected.

“After the initial shock we very quickly grabbed duvet covers and got everyone outside. We spent the rest of the night under the stars huddled together away from the building.

Simon Hales from Letchworth and the rest of the three-family group in Penna San Giovanni after the e

Simon Hales from Letchworth and the rest of the three-family group in Penna San Giovanni after the earthquake. - Credit: Archant


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“When we saw the devastation in Amatrice and the other towns where many perished, we were thankful to have survived.”

Simon was staying with 11 relatives and friends in Penna San Giovanni, just north of Amatrice – which they had passed within a mile of just four days earlier on their way up from Rome.

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They were told their villa was safe enough to stay, but there were milder tremors thoughout each night until they returned home on Saturday.

“You feel quite grateful, really, that you were not more involved,” said Simon.

“Our hearts go out to the families who hve lost loved ones and suffered injuries. Places like Amatrice look like a bomb site.

“It reminds us of the power of nature, and how insignificant we really are on the planet.”

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