Residents in central Italy were waking up to scenes of devastation this morning after a strong earthquake rocked the heart of the country.
At least five people were killed in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake quake, which sent residents fleeing their homes and running into the streets. A family of four were also trapped under the rubble and showing no signs of life.
The shallow quake, estimated to have struck after 3:30am at a depth of 6 miles, was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic centre felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.
The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Perozzi, told state-run RAI Radio 1 that there were downed buildings in the town centre and that the lights had gone out. He said he was unable to get in touch with emergency responders or reach the hospital.
“What can I tell you? It’s a tragedy,” he said. “Half the town is gone. There are people under the rubble… There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse.”
A resident of the Rieti region, which is between Rome and the epicentre of the quake, told the Rainews24 channel that she and most of her neighbours had come out onto the street after feeling “very strong shaking.”
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the magnitude at 6.1. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.2, with the epicenter at Norcia, about 105 miles northwest of Rome.
In 2009 a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
Italy is often shaken by earthquakes. Another quake hit the northern Emilia Romagna region in May 2012, when two violent shocks 10 days apart left 23 people dead and 14,000 others homeless.
How Italy compares to past earthquakes
Ten deaths in hamlet of Pescara
Italian news agency Ansa reports that ten of those who died in the quake were in Pescara, a hamlet close to the small town of Arquata del Tronto.
Rescuers short of equipment, moving rubble with bare hands
Rescuers in Amatrice told how they were desperately short of digging equipment and have been forced to move rubble with their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors, Patrick Sawer reports.
“The town isn’t here anymore,” Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi said earlier.
The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m local time and was felt across central Italy, including the capital Rome where residents felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.
Death toll could be as high as 20
The death toll has now risen to 21, according to Ansa, the Italian news agency, but the actual toll is feared much higher, reportsHenry Samuel.
Some 11 bodies have been recovered in the Lazio area, including six in Accumuli and five in Amatrice in the Rieti province, and another 10 in Pescaraa del Tronto in the Marche area.
Elderly couple among those trapped in rubble
A woman told how her elderly parents were trapped in their home in Amatrice when it came crashing down during the earthquake,reports Patrick Sawer.
Flavia Marino, from Rome, wrote on Twitter that her mother and father were eventually rescued from the collapsed apartment block by local fire and rescue services.
She said: “I tried calling them when I heard about the quake but got no answer. I was desperate for news. “The apartment block where they live had partially collapsed.
“I’m so thankful to the fire crews who rescued them.”
The latest reports indicate the death toll has now climbed to 13.
Aerial shot shows devastation of Amatrice
This aerial photo shows what Amatrice now looks like from above – scores of buildings have been decimated and it is feared many people are still trapped in the rubble.
Astonishing images show man being rescued from rubble
This is the moment a man was pulled out of the rubble in Amatrice and carried away on a stretcher. He has not been identified and the extent of his injuries is unclear.
6-year-old child recovered alive from rubble
Nick Squires in Amatrice writes:
Dozens of people are beneath the rubble, they are digging people out now. They have just found a 6-year-old child alive. A lot of the ambulances passing me on the road are taking casualties to the nearby city of L’Aquila.
Bodies pulled from rubble
Two bodies have been pulled from the rubble in Amatrice, central Italy.
They are the first known victims of the quake, though the mayor of the nearby town of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, has said a family of four is trapped under the rubble there with “no signs of life.”
Rescuers yet to reach small hamlets hit by quake
There are fears that the death toll could rise as a lot of villages that have been hit are small hamlets that the rescue services are yet to access, reports Nick Squires in Italy.
A regiment of the Italian army is on its way and authorities say the damage is comparable to the earthquake in L’Aquila, which left 308 dead.
It was felt as far away as Rome. I am on my way to the earthquake zone and can see quite a few ambulances coming through – the mayor of one village said it was “half-destroyed.”
Pictures emerge of the devastation
British tourists feel shocks
Tourists more than 100 miles away from the epicentre of an earthquake that has hit central Italy were woken by the tremors.
The magnitude 6.2 quake had its epicentre in Norcia in Umbria, about 105 miles north east of Rome.
Sarah Conrad, who works for YouTube in London and is visiting the Italian capital, said she was woken up in the early hours and also felt aftershocks.
She tweeted: “Pretty sure I was just woken up by an earthquake in £rome.
“I thought someone snuck into my hotel room & was jumping on the bed. Both scary!”
Paul O’ Halloran, whose Twitter profile said he was in Rome, said: “Just got woke up by an earthquake! Bed and window shutters moving!”
Toby Shaw, from Hampshire, tweeted: “I’m really hoping that I’ve just experienced an earthquake in Rome, otherwise I’m not sure I want to know what it was that shook the room.”
Death toll rises
Two bodies have been recovered from the rubble of a collapsed building in Amatrice, taking the confirmed death toll to five.
The first victims were an elderly couple whose home collapsed at Pescara del Tronto in the Marche region to the east of the epicentre, national broadcaster Rai and other media reported. One other person was reported dead at Accumoli, another village close to the epicentre.
In addition to the one confirmed death in Accumoli, four people were trapped under rubble and not responding to residents trying to reach them.
Historic sites damaged
Nicola Alemanno, mayor of the Umbrian city of Norcia, close to the epicentre, said no deaths have been reported deaths in Norcia.
“The anti-seismic structures of the town have held. There is damage to the historic heritage and buildings, but we do not have any serious injuries,” he told Rai.
Television stations showed images of rubble-strewn streets in a number of towns. The facades of some old stone buildings had collapsed, leaving the inside rooms exposed.
The mayor of Arquata, Aleandro Petrucci, says “all the houses have collapsed” in Pescara del Tronto.
“It’s a disaster. We are trying to evacuate the village and move them to a sports field. I’ve just arrived and I feel like crying. I’ve never seen such an apocalyptic scene except for the L’Aquila earthquake on television.”
Hospital badly damaged
A doctor has told Radio 1 that the earthquake has badly damaged the hospital in Amatrice. He said it was so badly affected that patients were being redirected to Rieti.
‘It is a disaster’
In addition to the family of four trapped in the rubble, the AGI news agency said at least one other person had died in the small town of Accumoli, taking the confirmed death toll to three.
“We have a tragedy here,” Mr Petrucci, the mayor, said. “It is a disaster, we have no light, no telephones, the rescue services have not got here yet.”
‘At least 6 believed dead’
Officials have told the state broadcaster RAI that at least six people are believed to have died in the quake.
The mayor of the central Italian town of Accumoli said a number of buildings had been badly damaged.
“Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children,” mayor Stefano Petrucci told RAI television.
RAI quoted local police as saying two people were known to have died in the nearby village of Pescara del Tronto.
Antonella Marietti, a Rai journalist, reports that Umbria was rocked by two tremors.
“No injuries nor casualties reported so far. The mayor spoke of damages to buildings and one of the roads has been blocked by rocks.”
Dawn reveals devastation
Francesco Anselmo, a pharmacist from Greciano, 5km from Accumoli, told Radio 1:
“Now that the sun has risen I can see a lot of rubble, the houses ripped up. The rescue services are not here yet, we don’t know what to do. Maybe an older lady has broken a leg but I haven’t heard of people trapped yet.
“We’ve been outside since half past three around a fire. All the houses are down. There are 150 people here but with people from Rome here we are maybe 300. All the houses, except maybe the new ones, have either collapsed or are split up.”
Casualties in Illica
Stefano Petrucci, mayor of Accumoli, told Radio 1: “The situation is very, very bad. The firefighters are not here yet.
“The parson is trapped on a second floor of a building and we can’t get him down. A family with two small children is also trapped under the rubble.”
“It’s a disaster, we can’t coordinate the relief efforts. I also know of confirmed casualties in Illica,” the mayor said adding that at this time of the year about 400 people are in the town.
Abruzzo president Luciano d’Alfonso said there has been damage reported in the region. He said 250 houses that had been given to victims of the 2009 L’Aquila victims have now been offered as refuge to victims of Wednesday’s quake.
Rescuers heading to quake-hit areas
The prime minister’s office in Rome says the civil protection agency is in touch with all the affected areas, like Amatrice. It says special vehicles are heading that way now.
The police have confirmed that two people – an elderly couple – have died as a result of the quake. The couple were in their house at the time.
‘It was awful’
Witnesses have started describing the moment when the quake struck.
In Ceselli, Umbria, Lina Mercantini told Reuters: “It was so strong. It seemed the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,”
Olga Urbani, in the nearby town of Scheggino, said: “Dear God it was awful. The walls creaked and all the books fell off the shelves.”
Two deaths reported
Italy’s news agency Ansa is reporting two deaths so far, in Arquata del Tronto. The information has not yet been confirmed.
Rai journalist Daniela Sanepa told Radio 1: “No damages here but a lot of fear. The anti-seismic structures have held on but the city is shocked. It is also ready to help though, they remember all the help they got in 2009.”
Quake compared to devastating 2009 tremor
Fabrizio Curcio, head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, said the quake could be compared to the one that hit L’Aquila in 2009.
That earthquake left more than 300 dead.
Mayor appeals for help
The mayor of the Umbrian town of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, is appealing for help.
Asked if there were any dead, he said: “Look there are houses that aren’t here anymore. I hope we get some help.”
The Red Cross has confirmed what Mr Pirozzi said, reporting that a bridge has collapsed, which has slowed down the first rescue. It said there were a lot of calls to civil protection and firefighters from the area.
‘Large piece of rock collapsed’
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said the earthquake was “severe” and there had been reports of damage, while a refuge on Gran Sasso mountain, in the Abruzzo region, said on its Facebook page that a large piece of rock had collapsed in the quake.
In Ascoli Piceno, firefighters say there are wounded but no deaths reported so far.
‘Half of the town is gone. People are trapped under the rubble’
The mayor of Amatrice, which so far appears to be one of the centres worst affected by the quake, said that half of the town is gone.
“Half of the town is gone. People are trapped under the rubble,” he told RaiNews24.
He said that access roads are blocked and asked for help to free them.
“There has been a landslide on one road and the other connects us through a bridge that is about to collapse. People are gathering in sports centres. We don’t have any power.”
Building reportedly collapsed in Norcia, Arquata, Accumoli and Amatrice
Ansa reports that buildings in Umbria and Marche have been damaged and some have collapsed in Accumoli and Amatrice.
Some building have been damaged in Ascoli Piceno and Norcia. Firefighters and police are verifying the extent of the damage.
Italian Civil Protection: Building collapsing in central Italy after “severe quake”
Italian Civic Protection Agancy says that it has reports of building collapsing in central Italy after “severe quake.”
PM Renzi is following developments from Palazzo Chigi
News agency AGI reported that Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi is following the developments from Palazzo Chigi.
Radio 1 also reports that the have had confirmation of collapsed buildings in Accumoli and Amatrice.
‘I can feel another strong quake now’
“I’m just feeling another strong quake now.” Mr Mazzilli told Radio 1 during a phone call.
Seconds later the Radio 1 presenter said that he was feeling it in Rome too, and in the studio the computers were shaking.
‘Houses have collapsed’
Alessandro Mazzilli, of the Alpine emergency service of Rieti, tells Radio 1: “There are problems in Amatrice, we are heading that way. Apparently houses have collapsed now, but I am not there yet so can’t confirm.
“The quake has been felt throughout the whole of central Italy, even in the Adriatic sea.” Mr Mazzilli added.
Trying to ‘clear the streets’
Mr Pirozzi went on to say: “We are trying to organise to clear the streets. I haven’t managed to get to the hospital yet.”
‘It’s a tragedy’
The mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, has called the quake a “tragedy”. Speaking to Radio Rai, he said:
“I’m trying to contact the services. The town doesn’t exist anymore. The ancient doors have come down. We need help from the civic protection.”
“There is no light, it’s all gone off. It’s all rubble, it’s a tragedy.”
Alessandro Orfei, a journalist working for local news, spoke to Radio Rai from Nocera Umbra:
“We felt the quake really strong. Confused situation. No damages to people reported so far, in Norcia people on the streets to monitor damages. Still feeling aftershocks.”
Quake caused ‘damage’
Rai journalist Leonardo Metalli said the quake was quite intense and caused “damages”.
Another Italian journalist, Sandro Piccinini, said on Twitter he felt the earthquake in Rome, adding “let’s hope the damage is not too bad, but the quake lasted a long while”.
Quake felt over large area
Radio Rai reports that the desks in their Rome offices shook and reports that it was felt across the peninsula from the Tirreno Sea to the Adriatic Sea.
It said there were two quakes, one around magnitude 6.0 with the epicentre close to Cumuli (Rieti), the other 4.8 magnitude. The main earthquake was shallow, at 4 km deep, according to Ansa Amatrice, north-east of rieti region.