At least 18 people are believed to have been killed and many more unaccounted for after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck central Italy.The quake hit just after 3.30am local time and was felt across a large swathe of the country, including in Rome, where people in the historic centre were woken by rattling furniture and swaying light-fittings, followed by aftershocks.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the epicentre was northeast of Rome, near Norcia in Umbria, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude at 6.2.
As dawn broke, emergency services and residents were scrambling to rescue people trapped under the ruins of razed old buildings, digging with shovels, bulldozers and even their bare hands to reach survivors.
Ten people were reportedly killed in Pescara del Tronto, in the Marche region, to the east of the epicentre, including elderly couple who died when their home collapsed. The mayor of Accumoli, another town hit by the quake in the Latium region, said he had seen no signs of life from a family of four, including two children, trapped under debris.