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10 killed as 6.1-magnitude quake rattles Rome, central Italy

Ten people were killed in a strong earthquake that struck central Italy early Wednesday, levelling buildings in several towns as residents slept. One mayor reported that a family of four was trapped under the debris without signs of life and another said, “The town isn’t here anymore.”

The 6.1 magnitude quake that struck at 3.36 a.m. was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including the capital Rome, where residents felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks. First images of damage showed debris in the street and some collapsed buildings in towns and villages that dot much of the Umbrian countryside.

The hardest-hit towns were reported as Amatrice and Accumoli near Rieti, with residents running into the streets as aftershocks continued into the early hours. As daylight dawned, residents and civil protection workers began digging out with shovels and bulldozers as dazed residents huddled in the open streets.

Now that daylight has come, we see that the situation is even more dreadful than we feared with buildings collapsed, people trapped under the rubble and no sound of life,” said Accumoli mayor Stefano Petrucci. The town, which is about a 110 kms from Rome, is one of the worst-hit by far

Latest update from Reuters say that at least 10 people believed killed in the mountainous central Italy. There are no figures on how many are injured so far but many are trapped in buildings. Rescue operations are on.

According to Associated Press, the ANSA news agency says two bodies have been pulled from the rubble of quake-hit Amatrice in central Italy.

Reports coming in saying that at least six people have been killed in the aftermath of the earthquake and many others injured.

The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Pirozzi, told state-run RAI radio and Sky TG24 that residents were buried under collapsed buildings, that the lights had gone out and that heavy equipment was needed to clear streets clogged with debris. “The town isn’t here anymore,” he said. The office of Premier Matteo Renzi tweeted that heavy equipment was on its way.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.1. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.2 with the epicentre at Norcia, about 170 km northeast of Rome, and with a relatively shallow depth of 10 km.

In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the same region and killed more than 300 people. The earlier earthquake struck L’Aquila in central Italy, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the latest quake.

A 1997 quake killed a dozen people in the area and severely damaged one of the jewels of Umbria, the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, filled with Giotto frescoes. The Franciscan friars who are the custodians of the basilica reported no immediate damage from Wednesday’s tumblor.

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