A powerful earthquake has rocked central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday morning, leaving at least six people dead and destroying buildings in several towns.
The 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 03:36 am local time, 10 km southeast of Norcia, a town in the province of Perugia, at the relatively shallow depth of 10 km, and it was felt across a vast area of central Italy, including the country’s capital Rome.
Reports are saying that in Rome, which is situated 150 km away from the epicentre, some buildings shook for 20 seconds.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the initial tremor was followed by multiple powerful aftershocks, of which at least four were major enough for the scientific agency to report – of 4.6, 4.0, 5.5, and 4.3 magnitude.
The most affected towns in the aftermath of this deadly quake were Amatrice, Accumoli, Ascoli Piceno, and Norcia, where people were trapped under debris after several buildings collapsed. And because the earthquake struck in a mountainous area, landslides are likely to happen.
The severe tremor sent residents running into the streets and an elderly couple has been confirmed dead by authorities in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto after their house collapsed.
Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi reported to RAI television that the death toll reached six, with two parents and two children buried under the debris.
“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,” Pirozzi said.
Italy is often hit by earthquakes, and the same region was seriously affected in 2009 when a 6.3-magnitude quake killed more than 300 people.
Update: On Thursday morning, Italian civil protection authorities announced that a total of 247 people were killed and at least 368 were injured during the earthquake. Rescue teams are continuing to search for survivors, as many people are still believed to be buried under debris.