BALTIMORE (WJZ) — At least 73 people are dead after a 6.2 earthquake struck central Italy Wednesday, and frantic searches are underway for trapped survivors, CBS News reports.
The small towns of Amatrice and Accumoli in central Italy, northeast of Rome, were among the hardest hit when the quake hit around 3:30 a.m. local time. Portions of those communities have been completely leveled.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.1. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.2 with the epicenter at Norcia, about 105 miles northwest of Rome, and with a relatively shallow depth of six miles.
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck in the same region and killed more than 300 people.
A 1997 quake killed a dozen people in the area and severely damaged one of the jewels of Umbria, the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, filled with Giotto frescoes. The Franciscan friars who are the custodians of the basilica reported no immediate damage from Wednesday’s temblor, however, the Associated Press reports.