Italian Earthquake Has Seismologists Talking... in the Pacific Northwest 

Seismologists in the Pacific Northwest are keeping a close eye on the devastation wrought by an earthquake that hit the Italian towns of Amatrice, Pescara del Tronto and Accumoli.

NBC News reports a magnitude 4.7 quake hit the area early Friday, one of more than 900 aftershocks to rock the region northeast of Rome since an earthquake measuring 6.2 struck Aug. 24.

Residents in the affected communities were preparing to bury 267 victims of the initial quake when the 4.7 temblor struck. A national day of mourning has been set for Saturday, with one state funeral set to bury 49 people from the tiny town of Ascoli Piceno.

Meanwhile, seismologists are comparing the Aug. 24 earthquake in Italy to a quake that hit the Seattle area in 2001. Scientists said both quakes rose from more than 30 miles beneath the earth's surface and were similar in strength.

The Seattle Times reports a scenario of a 6.7-magnitude earthquake along the Seattle Fault—similar in strength to Wednesday's tremor in Italy—estimated a death toll of 1,600 people and damage affecting about 200,000 Seattle homes and buildings. Additionally, such an earthquake in Seattle could trigger as many as 30,000 landslides.

"The one thing we know is, if there’s even a moderately strong earthquake—unreinforced masonry buildings will have a lot of problems,” University of Washington seismologist John Vidale told the Times, adding that the Seattle Fault cuts across Bremerton, Wash. through south Seattle to the Cascade foothills.

In 1983, the Borah Peak earthquake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale, was the most significant earthquake recorded in Idaho. Two Challis children were killed by falling masonry as they walked to school and the Challis-Mackay region suffered $12.5 million in damage following the 1983 quake.

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