Earthquake rocks northern Italy, killing 6


A rescue walks in front of the facade of the town hall after a powerful earthquake that shook Italy's industrial and densely populated northeast early on May 20, 2012 in Sant'Agostino village in the Modena province killing at least six people, felling homes and factories and toppling church steeples.


Giuseppe Cacae

A strong earthquake that struck Italy early Sunday — felt from Milan to Venice — left at least six people dead, left thousands homeless and reduced historic buildings in cities including Bologna and Verona to rubble, according to Australia's ABC

The 6.0-magnitude quake struck just after 4 a.m., about 22 miles north of the city of Bologna, the U.S. Geological Survey said, CNN reported.

According to the BBC, Sunday's earthquake was felt across a huge swathe of northern Italy, including the cities of Bologna, Ferrara, Verona and Mantua.

The same area was struck by a 5.3-magnitude quake in January. And in 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the central Italian city of L'Aquila, killing more than 300 people and causing widespread destruction.

Aftershocks had been reported and rescue teams were combing the area amid reports that a number of people may be buried under rubble.

About 50 people were reported injured, and the civil protection office said it anticipated more injuries as rescue workers make their way to remote villages in the mountainous area.

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Meanwhile, Italian TV reportedly showed damaged factories and church steeples across the region.

"I ran out in my underwear," Reuters quoted one man as telling Italian television.

Two people were killed in a ceramic factory in Sant'Agostino di Ferrara, and one person died when a work shed collapsed in Ponte Rodoni di Bondeno, CNN cited Elisabetta Maffani, spokeswoman for Italy's civil protection agency, as saying.

"He wasn't supposed to be there. He changed shifts with a friend who wanted to go to the beach," the mother of one of the victims at the Sant'Agostino factory told state TV, according to Reuters.

A woman — possibly German — in Bologna died of a heart attack during an evacuation, Maffani said, while it was not immediately clear how the fifth person died.

The 14th-century Estes Castle in the town of San Felipe Sul Pan, near the quake's epicenter, was badly damaged, Reuters wrote, and there were fears that one of the towers of the famous medieval castle could collapse.