A powerful pre-dawn earthquake hit a remote region of central Italy on Monday, killing at least 90 people (according to the New York Times) and leaving thousands homeless. Many historic buildings were destroyed near the historic college city of L'Aquila. The quake struck around 3:30 a.m. and could be felt as far away as Rome, some 60 miles to the southwest. L'Aquila is the capital of the central Italian Abruzzo region.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) measured the quake at magnitude 6.3, while Italy's national institute for geophysics put it at 5.8. The earthquake followed less than six hours after another quake hit the northern part of the country, the USGS. reported. Three significant aftershocks—ranging from magnitude 4.3 to 4.8—shook the area within six hours of the initial quake.
Buildings, many of them dating back to the 13th century, collapsed, and boulders blocked roads. Narrow medieval streets in L'Aquila and the mountain towns and villages close to the epicenter were making it difficult for rescue vehicles and equipment to access some areas. Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency after the quake.
On Sunday evening, a 4.6-magnitude jolt shook the country's north, about 55 km (35 miles) southeast of Bologna, according to meteorologists.