Sunday, April 5, 2009

Strong earthquake hits central Italy

By Phil Pullella

ROME (Reuters) - An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale rocked central Italy on Monday and was felt in the capital Rome, but there was no immediate word of any casualties.

Some residents in the city of l'Aquila, east of Rome in the mountainous Abruzzo region, ran out into the streets and there were reports of wide cracks in some homes.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the quake, which struck at about 3.35 a.m. (0135 GMT), was believed to be some 53 miles northeast of Rome. It initially put the scale of the quake at 6.7 but later lowered it 6.3.

Residents of Rome, which is rarely hit by seismic activity, were woken by the quake. Furniture rattled and car alarms went off.

The quake was the latest and strongest in a series to hit the l'Aquila area on Sunday and Monday.

Earthquakes can be particularly dangerous in parts of Italy where centuries-old buildings are left in disrepair.

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