At least 247 people died and some others trapped under rubble when a magnitude of 6.2 earthquake has stuck at 3.36 am in central Italy on Wednesday.
The earthquake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 76 km southeast of the city of Perugia, at the very low depth of 10km (six miles).
The quake felt across a wide section of central Italy, including Rome, the capital, where people in houses in the historic center sensed a long swaying followed by aftershocks of 5.5 magnitude.
The mayor of one city said to Italian radio that “half the town is gone”.
Residence said that they felt shook for more than 20 seconds. There was power cut in the whole area. Naturally, a large area including Rome was cut off contact in midnight. So the news came late.
First pictures of damage showed wreckage in the street and a number of collapsed buildings in villages and towns that dot much of the Umbrian countryside. The strongest-hit towns were Amatrice, Accumoli and Norcia.
Sergio Pirozzi, The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti said that residents were hidden under collapsed buildings and heavy tools were needed to clear streets covered with wreckage. A four people family had been found under rubble in the city of Accumoli.
People of Rome, about 170 km or 105 miles from the recorded epicenter, were woken up by the quake, which shook furniture and swayed lights in most of central Italy. An immigrant on the Gran Sasso Mountain, a popular area for climbers and hikers, said on his Facebook page that a big piece of rock had collapsed in that quake.
The last huge earthquake to hit Italy was a 6.3 magnitude quake in 2009 in the Aquila region, killed more than 300 dead.