An earthquake hit northwest Italy this morning, killing at least six people, injuring dozens more and destroying historic buildings across the region. The quake struck in the early hours of this morning, and killed three factory workers doing a nightshift and forced thousands of people on to the streets.
Emergency service chief Franco Gabrielli said the death toll included five people killed directly by the quake and another who suffered a heart attack because of it.
Officials said up to 3,000 people would not be able to return to their homes for the time being.
- Magnitude 6.0
- Struck at 2:04 local time
- Strongest to hit Italy in three years
The epicentre of the quake was in the planes near Modena, but tremors were felt as far west as Liguria, bordering France, and the Friuli region bordering Slovenia.
Mobile phone footage in nearby Po Valley captured the aftermath of the quake.
One man died after being hit by falling debris in a polyester factory, whilst two men working in a modern ceramics factory died after the roof of their building collapsed in Sant' Agostino.
The roof of the cathedral of Mirandola collapsed, and a 14th century castle in Estense was badly destroyed.
The tops of several of the smaller towers of the famous mediaeval castle, the town's biggest attraction, collapsed and there were fears that the main tower could crumble. Three of the town's churches were severely damaged.
The US Geological Survey has produced an image showing where the Italian quake struck, and its strength.
– Priest, Mirandola Cathedral
Our school children were to receive their first communion here this morning. If it had happened then it would have been a disaster.
The quake left a large hole and gashes in the side of the Sant' Agostino town hall, which officials said was in danger of total collapse.
Gas was also leaking from several buildings in the town, and many people have been forced to leave their homes.
– Lina Gardenghi, a resident of Bondeno,
I am 83 and I have never felt anything like this
Rescue workers are checking reports that other people were buried under rubble and were preparing to house those whose homes had been damaged or destroyed.
A series of strong aftershocks have also hit the area, the strongest measuring 5.1 and local mayors have ordered residents to stay in the open.