TEACHERS from Magherafelt Nursery school who were visiting nursery and primary schools in Italy had an early morning wake-up call when the town of Cesnena, an hour south of Bologna, in which they were staying, was affected by the tremors of the earthquake that hit the Emilia-Romagna region last Sunday.
The teachers were on an EU funded visit for their project on eco awareness, and also to observe the pre-school provision for children in the region.
Susan Campbell, from Castledawson, said she thought she had dreamt the whole experience.
She said: “It had been a busy few days since we had arrived in Bologna last Wednesday, and the final night of our two-year partnership with schools from Finland, Germany, Italy, Belgium and England.
“We had enjoyed a lovely last evening at an open-air classical music concert given by the school children in the area. I was woken up suddenly, and my first reaction was ‘I am in an earthquake’ the room was shaking and there were banging noises, but as it didn’t last very long I thought that I had dreamt it - after all you don’t expect earthquakes in rural Italy !
Claire Fullerton, from Newtownabbey and Lisa McGill, Maghera, said they were awoken at 4am by the tremors of the earthquake.
“In our rooms the beds moved, coat hangers rattled and we realised we were experiencing an earthquake! Something not originally on our Comenius Project itinerary,” they said.
Sunday’s earthquake, a six on the Richter scale, killed four factory workers who were on the night shift, an elderly woman who was hit by a beam and two women who died as a result of shock.
It also left a swathe of damage across the Emilia-Romagna region, felling ancient monuments, and priceless mosaics that have stood for centuries.