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Google Maps 6.2 earthquake rocks central Italy

Remigio Civitarese | 25 Agosto, 2016, 01:23

In May 2012, a pair of earthquakes killed dozens of people in northern Italy.

The towns in the region are old, with roots in medieval Italy, and some have been "completely razed", Winfield says: "The buildings are old and they just crumbled".

One woman, Maria Gianni, said: "The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me".

Just after midday, almost 9 hours after the first quake shook residents and holiday makers from their sleep in terrifying fashion, army diggers were still making their way up to a village situated at an altitude of 800 meters (2,600 feet).

In a statement, the Ministry of foreign affairs said it will maintain its close contact with the Italian authorities for the latest updates on the situation.

The quake, the death toll of which is now reported to have risen to around 60, is the strongest in Italy since the devastating magnitude-6.3 natural disaster in 2009 near the town of L'Aquila.

The mayor of nearby Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, told Rai that newer buildings were the most damaged, while some of a more historic buildings suffered less damage.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said Warsaw was ready to send firefighters and members of other services if Italy asked for help.

Fabrizio Curcio, the director of Italy's civil protection agency, activated national emergency procedures.

"We live quite far away but felt the quake, we rushed to get news from the television, and as soon as we saw it was here we called my sister again and again but she didn't answer", he said.

The 6.2 magnitude quake hit about 75 miles north of where the team was located in Rome early Wednesday morning.

Amatrice, Accumoli, and Pescara del Tronto, in the Apennine Mountains, are among the hardest-hit towns.

Residents of Rome were woken by the tremors, which rattled furniture, swayed lights and set off vehicle alarms in most of central Italy.

Remy Bossu, head of the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center in France, said shallow earthquakes of this magnitude were not highly unusual in the zone hit Wednesday.

The magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:36 a.m. and was felt across a broad swath of central Italy, including Rome, where residents woke to a long swaying followed by aftershocks.

A resident of the town Arquata del Tronto, also a few kilometres from the epicentre, said many residents were trapped in their houses or were in the town square because their houses had crumbled. "The entire hotel was shaking", said Charlotte Smith, coach of Elon University women's basketball team in North Carolina, who was in Rome with her players when the quake hit.

"We're digging, digging... hoping to find someone alive", he said.

Sergio Perozzi, the mayor of Amatrice, said, "Roads in and out of town are cut off".

"So the tiny town of Accumoli. the mayor said is only a population of 700 but it swells to about 2,500 in the summer", she says, raising concerns about high casualty numbers.

A 5.5 magnitude aftershock hit the same region an hour after the initial quake.

The Prime Minister appreciated the work of the rescuers and announced he will show up on Wednesday at the affected area.

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