Magnitude 6.1 quake rattles Rome, central Italy

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude estimated at 6.1 has rattled Rome and central Italy in the middle of the night

A magnitude 6.1 quake rattles Rome in central

A magnitude 6.1 quake rattles Rome in central Italy. (Credit: File photo)

ROME - A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck central Italy early Wednesday, with reports of damaged buildings and blackouts near the epicenter Rieti and residents fleeing their homes and running into the streets.

The quake struck just after 3:30 a.m. and was felt across a broad section of central Italy, including the capital Rome where people in homes in the historic center felt a long swaying followed by aftershocks.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.1 and said the epicenter was northeast of Rome, near Rieti. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.2.

The mayor of Amatrice near Rieti, Sergio Perozzi, told state-run RAI radio that there were downed buildings in the city center and that the lights had gone out. He said he was unable to get in touch with emergency responders or reach the hospital.

"What can I tell you? It's a drama," he said.

In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the same region and killed more than 300 people. The earlier earthquake struck L'Aquila in central Italy, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the latest quake.

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