THE owners of a book store in Henley have spoken of their fear after they were caught in the earthquake that devastated central Italy on Wednesday.
Sam and Christiaan Jonkers, who run Jonkers Rare Books in Hart Street, are staying in the rural village of Montalto delle Marche in the province of Ascoli Piceno, about 50 miles from the epicentre of the 6.2 magnitude quake near the town of Norcia.
The couple, who are on holiday with their two children and Mrs Jonker’s parents to celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday, were woken up at 3.36am by the earthquake “rattling the beds and shaking windows and wardrobes”.
They hid under the bed during the first tremor before moving outside to an open area in the garden.
They watched as several aftershocks caused the walls of the building to crack and crumble.
But their village escaped major damage and the family were not injured before they then heard of the devastation in other parts of the country.
Mrs Jonkers said: “It was an extremely scary experience and none of us got any more sleep.
“We have not needed to move from our accommodation, although we have been reluctant to go back upstairs.
“We are all OK and our thoughts are with the families of those affected by the earthquake.”
The family have been told not to use their mobile phones and wi-fi so that phone and internet connections can be kept free for the emergency services.
They have also been advised not to use their car unless necessary.
They are due to leave tomorrow (Saturday) but say they may have to stay longer if they are unable to leave the village.
Mrs Jonkers said: “We have been up since 3.36am and there have been regular aftershocks all day.
“All the locals are equally shocked. They are used to minor tremors but most said they had been unable to sleep due to anxiety.”
She added that the locals were shaken up and many of them were gathered in the town’s piazza overnight.
On Thursday, 247 people were said to have been killed and hundreds more are injured after the earthquake, which hit around 65 miles north-east of Rome.
Many of the victims were in the towns of Accumoli and Amatrice and the village of Pescara del Tronto. Many people are still believed to be buried under rubble and rescue teams are using lifting equipment to clear the debris.
Last month, the Jonkers book store relocated from their Grade II listed building to the former Rive Gauche boutique, which closed last year.
Mr Jonkers called the move an “expansion of sorts” as the new premises is larger than the old one.
He said the extra space was needed so research could be carried out in building collections for clients around the world. The site also houses a reference library.
Mr Jonkers said he had been looking for new premises for a couple of years but wanted to stay in Henley. “We have got a lot of customers in and around Henley so we wanted somewhere for them to come and have a browse,” he said.
“What we offer sort of swells and contracts depending on whether we have just bought a large collection or not, but broadly speaking what we do, what we sell, won’t change one iota — the business will run exactly in the same way it has done.”