A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy on Sunday, collapsing more buildings in small cities and towns previously shuddered by tremors in the past two months. There were no immediate reports of casualties, though.
It was a stronger quake than one that struck central Italy on Aug. 24, killing close to 300 people. Thousands of aftershocks have been recorded in the weeks since then, including two exceptionally powerful tremors last Wednesday.
Italy’s emergency services said there was severe damage in numerous locations in the central regions of Umbria and Marche on Sunday. Three people were rescued from debris in the town of Ussita. However, there were no reports of casualties, State broadcaster RAI said.
The monks said the ancient Basilica of St. Benedict in the walled town of Norcia was ravaged by the quake. Images on television showed a collapsed church in the town center and also another church with one side reduced to rubble.
Several towns and villages previously thrashed by the 6.2 quake in August had seen further substantial damage, local authorities said.
“This morning’s quake has hit the few things that were left standing. We will have to start from scratch,” Arquata del Tronto deputy mayor Michele Franchi told Rai television.
Most of these places were largely deserted when the quake hit on Sunday morning at around 7.40 a.m. (2:40 a.m. ET) as residents were already evacuated following the August tragedy.
The earthquake was felt as far as Bolzano in the north, close to the boundary with Austria and as far as the Puglia region in the south at the bottom end of the Italian peninsula.
In Rome, transport authorities had to close down the metro system for checks as the quake was also felt strongly in the capital.
Italy one of the most earthquake prone in Europe
Italy rests on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active nations in Europe.
The last major earthquake to hit the country before this year hit the central city of L’Aquila in 2009. Casualties reached more than 300 people.
In 1908, an earthquake followed by a tsunami eradicated an estimated 80,000 people in the southern sections of Reggio Calabria and Sicily. This was the most deadly since the start of the 20th century.