Italian authorities launched a major response effort involving multiple helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft after the major earthquake that hit the nation's Abruzzo region at around 03:30 local time on 6 April.

The disaster has claimed at least 180 lives, injured 1,500 people and left around 70,000 homeless, with the town of L'Aquila particularly badly affected.

 L'Aquila earthquake - EPS/Rex Features
© EPS/Rex Features

The 6 April earthquake devastated the town of L'Aquila

Co-ordinated from the Italian Civil Protection organisation's headquarters in Rome, operations have involved assets including AgustaWestland A109 and Agusta-Bell AB212/412 helicopters, ATR 42 patrol aircraft and Piaggio P180 transports drawn from the armed forces, police, Carabinieri, customs and firefighting services and other agencies.

Air force Sikorsky HH-3F search-and-rescue helicopters were deployed from Grazzanise and Pratica di Mare air bases carrying medical teams, while one of the service's Alenia Aeronautica C-27J light transports was configured with 20 stretchers and placed on standby at Pisa air base. It later evacuated 19 casualties to Pescara from Preturo civil airport north-east of L'Aquila, with the latter's 1,400m (4,590ft)-long runway having been reactivated by air force personnel and using a mobile control tower deployed by Italy's ENAV air traffic control agency.

 C-27J Italy - Alenia Aeronautica
© Alenia Aeronautica

An air force C-27J was used to evacuate casualties

The army mobilised three AB412s, two Boeing CH-47C Chinooks and two NH Industries NH90 helicopters, plus two Dornier 228s. The bulk of these were deployed to the earthquake area to perform medical evacuation, liaison and surveillance tasks.

Air force Alenia Aeronautica/Embraer AMX aircraft have been used to provide photographic reconnaissance, while the Italian Space Agency and defence ministry are co-ordinating the use of Cosmo SkyMed Earth surveillance satellites to provide up-to-date imagery of the earthquake region.

Source: Flight International