Rome: An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude estimated at 6.1 has rattled Rome and central Italy in the middle of Tuesday night.
There were no immediate reports of damage, but state-run RAI radio early Wednesday said that people ran into the streets in central Umbria and Le Marche regions shortly after the earthquake struck just after 3.30 am. The earthquake was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic center felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.1 and said the epicenter was northeast of Rome, near Rieti. The US Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude at 6.2. It was felt in central Rome, as people in homes in the city's historic center felt a long swaying.
The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Perozzi, told state-run RAI radio that there were downed buildings in the city center 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 drama," he said.
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.
USGS's PAGER system, which predicts the impact of earthquakes, has issued a red alert — suggesting significant casualties and damage based on previous earthquake data. A 2009, 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, left more than 300 dead.
With inputs from agencies