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Three quakes rattle Italian central areas

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-18 20:49

ROME - A series of strong earthquakes hit Italian central areas on Wednesday morning.

A first 5.3-magnitude temblor on the Richter scale struck at 10:25 am local time (0925 GMT) in the province of L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region, according to Italy's National Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (INGV).

It was registered at a relatively shallow depth of 9 km.

The second quake carrying a magnitude of 5.4 hit at 11:14 am local time. Its epicenter was registered near the village of Montereale in the L'Aquila province.

Some ten minutes later, at 11:25 am, a third one measuring 5.3 struck the same area, the INGV said.

The institute also kept registering several minor tremors in the areas between the provinces of L'Aquila and Rieti afterwards.

All of the three major events on Wednesday morning were clearly felt across the central regions of Abruzzo, Marche and Lazio.

The earth trembled as far as in the Italian capital, some 110 km west from the epicenter, where schools were closed, and the underground evacuated, for precautionary reasons.

No casualties were immediately reported. Yet, damages were registered in some villages and towns already struck by three major quakes last year.

In Amatrice, the bell tower collapsed. The little town in the province of Rieti had already been levelled by a 6.0-magnitude quake on Aug 24, which caused some 300 deaths overall.

Two other major temblors followed that of late August 2016, destroying much of the historical heritage of those regions, and forcing thousands of people to live in tent cities or temporary housing centers.

Wednesday's seismic events affected those population particularly hard, since their living conditions have been recently exacerbated by an exceptional wave of cold weather and freezing temperatures.

Around Norcia, a medieval town in the mountains of the Umbria region badly hit by last year's quakes, heavy snowfalls have been registered for the last three days.

The major highway connecting Rome to the affected areas was temporarily closed to verify its conditions, the managing society said.

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