Strong earthquakes struck a mountainous stretch of central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least 120 people.
Authorities confirmed that a magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit the village of Pescara del Tronto which was levelled to the ground and there were fears the number of casualties could rise.
According to the mayor of Accumoli, the quake caused serious damage to a number of towns and villages but did not seem to have hit heavily populated areas.
Residents of Rome, some 170 km (105 miles) from the epicentre, were woken by the quake, which rattled furniture and swayed lights in most of central Italy.
The death toll was expected to rise, and officials said roughly 40 strong earthquakes were reported over a three-hour period.Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.
The last major earthquake to hit the country struck the central city of L’Aquila in 2009, killing more than 300 people.