Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake Strikes Central Italy

italyquake-82316A powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy some 76 kilometers southeast of the city of Perugia at 1:36 a.m GMT. Social media has been flooded with reports of strong tremors felt in the country’s capital, Rome.

The town of Norcia, home to some 5,000 residents, lies just 10km southeast of the quake’s epicenter, according to US Geological Survey (USGS). The ancient Italian city of Spoleto in the Perugia province with some 40,000 residents is located 35km east of the quake.

The earthquake hit 126km north of Rome, the largest and most populous city of the region with 2.6 million people.

The shaking appears to have woken up quite a few residents in central Italy. Besides Rome, aftershocks were also felt in Florence.

The tremors lasted for about 20-30 seconds, eyewitnesses say.

People have reportedly run in panic into the streets in central Umbria and Le Marche regions, according to RAI radio, cited by AFP.

The Italian authorities are monitoring the situation and have been in contact with the Civil Protection Agency, the prime minister’s spokesman said on Twitter.

Sergio Pirozzi, a mayor of the town of about 2,700 residents, said it needs urgent assistance from civic protection services, citing extensive damages.

“The ancient doors have come down. We need help from the civic protection [services],” he said to Radi Rai.

“I’m trying to contact the services. The town doesn’t exist anymore,” he added.

Although, there is no information on the casualties yet, several people are trapped under the rubble, the mayor confirmed, La Republica reported.

“There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse,” the mayor told RAI.

The national civil protection agency stated the earthquake is estimated to be “severe,” Reuters reported.

The USGS graphics suggest “significant casualties” are likely to occur in Central Italy with small town of Accumoli, Norcia, Maltignano, Amatrice, Cascia and Cittareale are listed as most exposed to the quake. The economic damages are expected to be significant and “likely widespread.”

“Past events with this alert level have required a national or international level response,” the USGS states.