Earthquake hits Italy

Rome’s historic center has been shaken by a strong earthquake which has struck central Italy.

One resident who lives near St Peter’s Square said she “felt the apartment shaking and the walls cracking”.

It is not yet known if there are any casualties from the earthquake which measured 5.4 on the Richter scale but there are reports of terrified residents fleeing their apartments.

Tremors were felt from Perugia to Rome, and also in the town of L’Aquila which was hit by an earthquake in 2009.

It comes just two months after an earthquake in the same area killed nearly 300 people and destroyed hilltop villages of Amatrice and a number of small towns in the region.

That more powerful quake measured 6.2 on the Richter scale.

Italy’s National Vulcanology Centre said the epicentre of today’s earthquake was close to Macerata, 50 miles south east of Perugia in central Italy and about 80 miles away from Rome.

The quake struck at 7.11pm local time and eyewitnesses reported centuries old buildings shaking in the tremors which lasted for several seconds.

The mayor of Castel Santangelo Sul Nera, close to the quake’s epicentre, said: “We’re without power, waiting for emergency crews.We can’t see anything. It’s tough. Really tough.”

Software developer Arcangelo Vicedomini, who lives outside Rome, tweeted: “Earthquake in Italy, 5.6 Richter, epicenter 66 km south of Perugia. In Nettuno chandeliers are dancing.”

Worried mother Vanda Wilcox tweeted: “Another big earthquake. Epicentre near Perugia, made the house shake hugely here, frightened us enough to get baby up & go out.”

The quake’s intensity was first measured at an intensity of 5.6 but that number was later revised to 5.4 by the US Geological Survey which said it had a ‘relatively shallow’ depth of only seven miles.