At least eight people were killed Wednesday after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck central Italy, according to local news reports.
A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has struck central Italy, leaving at least six people dead and others trapped under rubble, Italian officials said.
The quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 76 km (47 miles) southeast of the city of Perugia, at the very shallow depth of 10km (six miles), the USGS said.
The Mayor of Amatrice told Italian radio “half the town is gone”.
In Rome, some buildings shook for 20 seconds, according to La Repubblica newspaper.
A family of four had been found under rubble in the town of Accumoli, the town’s mayor Stefano Petrucci told RAI TV.
Meanwhile police said two people had died in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto, RAI reported.
There were also reports of serious damage in the town of Amatrice.
“The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone. There are people under the rubble… There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse,” mayor Sergio Perozzi told RAI radio.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency described the earthquake as “severe”.
“It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,” Lina Mercantini of Ceselli, Umbria, told Reuters.
Rescue teams are being sent to the worst-hit areas, the prime minister’s office said.
The quake was initially reported as being magnitude 6.4. It was followed by several powerful aftershocks, La Repubblica newspaper reported.
The deputy editor of the British newspaper, The Times, told the BBC that the quake lasted about 20 seconds followed by an aftershock about 20 minutes later which was easily as strong.
“It was pitch dark, very cold. Nobody in our group had a clue what to do in an earthquake,” Emma Tucker said, who was in the area at the time.
The USGS predicted the damage could be significant, based on data from previous quakes.
It said the quake struck near the Umbrian city of Norcia, whose picturesque historic centre is a popular tourist site.
However Norcia Mayor Nicola Alemanno said no deaths have been reported there.
“The anti-seismic structures of the town have held,” he said. “There is damage to the historic heritage and buildings, but we do not have any serious injuries.”
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
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