ROME: A major earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.1 has struck central Italy.
The 6.6 magnitude quake comes just months after 300 people were killed in a horror quake, report agencies.
There have been no casualties but there are reports the San Bendetto Church in nearby Norcia has collapsed.
The quake hit some 68 kilometres east-southeast of Perugia, in the country’s Umbria region, on Sunday morning.
— EMSC (@LastQuake) October 30, 2016
The US Geological Survey say the shake has a depth of 1.5km.
Live television coverage showed the collapse of a church in the centre of Norcia, a town near Perugia in Umbria. Parts of the town had already been sealed off, reports The Independent.
Live television coverage showed the collapse of a church in the centre of Norcia, a town near Perugia in Umbria. Parts of the town had already been sealed off.
Meanwhile, the earthquakes could continue in a devastating domino effect with one large quake leading to another along the central Apennine fault system, a leading seismologist warned on Sunday, reports Reuters.
Gianluca Valensise, a seismologist at Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, told Reuters there was a “geodynamic link” between the deadly August earthquake and all those that have followed.
Mayor of Ussita, Marco Rinaldi, said: “Everything collapsed. I can see columns of smoke, it’s a disaster, a disaster, reports Sky News.
“I was sleeping in my car. I saw hell break out.”
The head of the civil protection authority in the region, Cesare Spuri, said there had been support of collapsing buildings in many cities.
He said: “We are trying to understand if people are under the rubble.”
Another hard-hit city, Castelsantangelo sul Nera, also suffered new damage, reports New York Times. In Arquata del Tronto, which had been devastated by the Aug. 24 earthquake that killed nearly 300 people, Arquata Mayor Aleandro Petrucci said, “There are no towns left.”
The quake was felt throughout the Italian peninsula, with reports as far north as Bolzano and as far south as Bari. Residents rushed into the streets in Rome, where ancient palazzi shook, swayed and lurched for a prolonged spell.
Powerful earthquake sends buildings crumbling in Italy https://t.co/mKFAUozhtI
— David Hale (@DavidHa51596823) October 30, 2016
And earlier this week, two regions of Italy were struck by smaller tremors.
Areas near Perugia were struck by twin shakes on October 26, measuring measuring 5.5 and 6.1 on the Richter scale.
Experts believe the earthquakes are disrupting the crusts of the tectonic plates as they have all occured on the same fault line – where two plates meet – which could contribute to building tension and in turn lead to a greater tremor.
Musafir Namah Bureau