I was reminded when I switched the news on this morning of my A Level Geography teacher, who used to say that every time he taught plate tectonics, he could almost guarantee there'd be an earthquake or a volcanic eruption somewhere in the world. That's certainly seemed to be the case every time I've taught it, and just the other day I told Yr13 to watch the news over the holidays.
Sadly, the first news item I saw this morning was that an earthquake in Italy had killed at least 16 people. According to the BBC website, the death toll is now 27. The magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the medieval city of L'Aquila in the early hours of this morning, causing many of the city's 70,000 residents to run out into the streets in panic. The age of the buildings meant that many of them were unable to withstand the quake, and the narrow mountainous roads are making rescue attempts more difficult.
The Google Earth screenshot below shows the area, with the USGS earthquakes layer enabled.
More from the BBC here.
Also on the same news bulletin was that the Llaima volcano in Chile has been "spewing lava, ash and gas" overnight, causing many people from the surrounding area to be evacuated. As well as the danger from the eruption itself, melting snow is increasing the risk of mudslides, and volcanic ash has caused river levels in the area to increase. More here.