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Death toll from Italy earthquake rises to four

Four people have now been killed in a powerful 6.0 magnitude earthquake in northern Italy.

Updated 13.00

THE DEATH TOLL from one of the strongest earthquakes to shake northern Italy has risen to four people.

The region surrounding Bologna was hit early Sunday by a magnitude-6.0 temblor that killed at least four people, toppled some buildings and sent residents running into the streets, emergency services and news reports said.

The quake struck at 4.04 am Sunday between Modena and Mantova, about 35 kilometres north-northwest of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 5 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

It was one of the strongest quakes to shake the region, seismologists said, and initial television footage indicated that older buildings had suffered damage: roofs collapsed, church towers showed cracks and the bricks of some stone walls tumbled into the street. As dawn broke over the region, residents milled about the streets inspecting the damage.

Death toll from Italy earthquake rises to four
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Sant’Agostino di Ferrara

Italian news agency ANSA, citing emergency services, said two people were killed in Sant’Agostino di Ferrara when a ceramics factory collapsed. Another person was killed in Ponte Rodoni do Bondeno, ANSA said.

Italy’s Sky TG24 showed images of the collapsed ceramics factory where the two workers were reportedly killed; the structure, which appeared to be a hangar of sorts, had twisted metal supports jutting out at odd angles amid the mangled collapsed roof.

“It was a strong one, and it lasted quite a long time,” said Emilio Bianco, receptionist at Modena’s Canalgrande hotel, housed in an ornate 18th century palazzo. The hotel suffered no damage and Modena itself was spared, but guests spilled into the streets as soon as the quake hit, he said.

Many people were still awake at 4 a.m. and milling about town anyway since it was a “white night,” with stores and restaurants open all night. Museums were supposed to have remained open as well but closed following the bombing Saturday of a school in southern Italy that killed one person.

Felt as far away as Tuscany

The epicenter was between the towns of Finale Emilia, San Felice sul Panaro and Sermide but was felt as far away as Tuscany and northern Alto Adige.

The initial quake was followed about an hour later by a 5.1-magnitude temblor, USGS said. And it was preceded by a 4.1-temblor.

In late January, a 5.4-magnitude quake shook northern Italy. Some office buildings in Milan were evacuated as a precaution and there were scattered reports of falling masonry and cracks in buildings.

In 2009, a devastating temblor killed more than 300 people in the central city of L’Aquila.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Wade

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