‘Is this the way I’m going to die?’ - Halifax couple speak of Italian earthquake terror

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A Halifax couple has spoken of the terrifying moment a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy.

John Dodds and Donna Scrivener, originally from Illingworth, have been working as holiday representatives in Umbria since April.

The couple, who have been together for 28 years and have three children, spoke to the Halifax Courier from the village of Foligno.

Ms Scrivener, 48, said: “At about 3.30am in the morning, we were fast asleep and heard a glass smash which woke us both up.

“We then heard a really strange thunder noise. It seemed like the whole house and bed were elevating and lifting off the ground. It was the strangest, most terrifying feeling and all I could think about was ‘Is this the way I’m going to die?’

“John didn’t know what to do either. We were both in shock so we just cuddled each other and pulled the quilt over our heads.

“There were three tremors in all and the first one was the worst. People were out in the streets, the phone lines were down, people were crying and frantically trying to ring family and friends.

“Our tour operator rang us first thing and our main concern was our customers, so we drove to our hotels and checked everyone from the UK was fine.

“We were just so thankful for social media so we could let everyone know we are ok. We have three adult children and we knew they would be worried.”

The couple said they had been into Foligno centre today (Wednesday) and they described it as a “ghost town”, but say churches are busy as people pray and take refuge.

At least 11 people were reported dead in two badly hit towns, where rescue crews raced to dig out survivors from the rubble.

The hardest hit towns were Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, some 80 miles (100km) north-east of Rome, although the quake was felt beyond the Lazio region into Umbria and Le Marche on the Adriatic coast.

The centre of Amatrice was devastated, with entire palazzos razed to the ground. Rocks and metal tumbled on to the streets as dozens of aftershocks continued into the early morning hours, some as strong as 5.1.

In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the same region and killed more than 300 people. And a 1997 quake killed a dozen people in the area.