Many people are feared to have been killed when a strong earthquake measuring 6.2 in the Richter scale rocked central Italy on Wednesday. Reports from various media organizations say that the hardest-hit towns are Amatrice and Accumoli. Mayor of Amatrice said that residents are buried under debris and town “isn’t here anymore.” Amatrice is popular summer holiday destination for Italians. The access to the town has been blocked making it impossible for rescue services to reach. The United States Geological Survey said the epicentre was at Norcia, about 170 kilometres northeast of Rome with a depth of 10 kilometres. People ran out of their houses and the tremors could be felt till Rome. The ANSA news agency reported that two bodies had been pulled from the rubble of Amatrice.
The quake struck around 3:30 am in the morning when people were asleep. First images of the damage showed debris in the street and some collapsed buildings in towns and villages. Damage has been reported from three regions – Umbria, Lazio and Marche. The mayor of Accumoli said a number of buildings had been badly damaged. Media reports suggest that multiple aftershocks were felt after the quake. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s spokesman said on Twitter that the government was in touch with the civil protection agency and following the situation closely. Witnesses told Italian media that the death toll is likely to increase. In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck L’Aquila in central Italy killing over 300 people.