A powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake followed by a series of aftershocks has shaken central Italy.
The quake struck at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome, where strong tremors were felt.
Several small towns and villages have been seriously damaged or destroyed and more than 200 people were killed.
Many of the dead were in Accumoli, near to the epicentre and a short distance away in Amatrice, which was largely reduced to rubble. Many people are still believed to be buried under the rubble, and the death toll is expected to rise.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Wednesday evening that at least 120 people had died.
The quake hit at 01:36 GMT with an epicenter 76 kilometers southeast of the city of Perugia, the US Geological Survey reported.
The town of Norcia, home to some 5,000 residents, lies just 10km southeast of the quake’s epicenter, according to US Geological Survey (USGS). The ancient Italian city of Spoleto in the Perugia province with some 40,000 residents is located 35km east of the quake.
The shaking appears to have woken up quite a few residents in central Italy. Besides Rome, aftershocks were also felt in Florence.
Jenny Parkinson, a Rome resident, wrote on Twitter the building she was inside “swayed for what seemed an age – bed rocking, lightshades swinging. Horrid!”
The tremors lasted for about 20-30 seconds, eyewitnesses say.
A series of strong aftershocks followed the initial quake, with one of them having an estimated magnitude of at least 5.4.
The death toll from the earthquake in central Italy has jumped to 38, a spokeswoman from the Civil Defense department said.
The Italian army has been mobilized to aid earthquake-affected areas, the Italian Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter.
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