Earthquake measuring 6.6 magnitude hits Italy, several buildings collapsed

No major causalities have been reported so far after the powerful quake

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 has hit Norcia in Central Italy, damaging several buildings in the area.

No major causalities have been reported so far after the powerful quake. Italian media said nine people have been pulled alive from the rubble, BBC news reported.

Italy witnesses the new strong tremor just two months after an earthquake that killed almost 300 people and destroyed several towns.

Media reports said many of these already-hit places were evacuated after the August tremor and were largely deserted on Sunday morning when the quake hit the area.

According to US Geological Survey, the epicentre of the quake was 68km south-east of the regional centre of Perugia and close to the small town of Norcia.  The German Research Centre for Geosciences said the magnitude was at 6.5 and it had a depth of 10 kilometers.

Reports said the quakes, which destroyed Norcia’s historic Basilica of St. Benedict, were felt in Rome, and as far away as Venice in the north.

Fabrizio Curcio, head of Italy’s civil protection agency, said that many buildings that had resisted the previous temblors have collapsed now, media reported. The agency is using helicopters to help the injured and to assess damage.

The mayor of quake-hit Ussita was quoted by ANSA news agency as saying: “It’s a disaster, a disaster! I was sleeping in the car and I saw hell.” Mayor said a huge cloud of smoke emerged from the crumbled buildings after the quake.

Italy is one of the most seismically active countries in the world as it sits on two fault lines. In 2009, a major earthquake had struck the central city of L’Aquila, killing more than 300 people, Reuters reported.

One of the deadliest quakes in the country, an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people 1908.