'It was scary for the kids, but they're OK', says Irish bar boss
An Irish family were among thousands forced from their homes following a devastating earthquake in central Italy.
Speaking to the Herald from Rome, where many felt tremors, bar owner Michael Burns (41) said his family in the town of Amelia, 80 miles from the epicentre, had to flee their home during the night when the quake stuck early yesterday.
"They had to get out of the house because it was shaking so bad. Most of the neighbours did the same," said Mr Burns, whose sons Wayne (9) and Killian (6) have Irish passports.
"They waited outside for 45 minutes wrapped in blankets before they felt it was safe to go back in again.
"I got a call from my family in the morning just after the quake hit to let me know what happened.
"Later in the day, they had to get out again when the aftershocks came.
"It was very scary for the kids, but thankfully no one was hurt."
The Belfast man, who has lived in Italy for 21 years, added: "I've been hearing reports all day about how bad things are in Accumoli and Amatrice.
"The entire area has been left devastated.
"I don't even want to think about what might have happ-ened had we lived closer to the epicentre."
Mr Burns, who runs the Finnegan Irish pub in the Italian capital, said the surrounding area hit hardest by the quake was not somewhere that Irish holidaymakers would head for.
"It's well off the tourism track and I'd be very surprised to learn there were any people from Ireland living in the area," he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has received no requests for consular assistance following the quake, but staff at the Irish embassy in Rome were continuing to monitoring the situation.
Last night, President Michael D Higgins sent a letter of condolences to Italian president Sergio Mattarella.
Irish citizens with concerns about the quake are asked to call 01 408 2527.