An earthquake in Italy early Wednesday killed at least 120 people and devastated a string of small towns, according to news accounts coming from the central part of the country where the 6.2 magnitude quake struck.
Rescuers have been slowed because the earthquake did its most damage in the mountainous Apennines region, noted Reuters.
The quake struck when most residents were asleep, razing homes and buckling roads in a cluster of communities some 85 miles east of Rome.
Thirty-nine aftershocks have rattled the area since the earthquake, some as strong as 5.1 magnitude, said The Associated Press.
Early reports said the earthquake destroyed about 80,000 homes in the Marche and Umbria regions, said the United States Geological Survey which measured and tracked the quake.
NBC News reported that at least 120 people are dead and another 368 wounded.
"The town isn't here anymore," said Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi, per the AP.
"The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me," Amatrice resident Maria Gianni told the AP. "I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn't hit luckily, just slightly injured my leg."
A YouTube video showed damage done by the earthquake in Pescara del Tronto.
Jon Henley, The Guardian's European affairs correspondent, said the earthquake razed homes, buckled roads and trapped many people in rubble.
"Residents and emergency services struggled to free people from dozens of buildings that collapsed into piles of masonry in the communities closest to the epicenter of the quake, in a remote area straddling the regions of Umbria, Marche and Lazio," said Henley.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, offered Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi support and solidarity. The letter was shared on Juncker's Twitter account.
"The Apennines is a mountain range that runs from the Gulf of Taranto in the south to the southern edge of the Po basin in northern Italy," explained the USGS. "The Aug. 24, 2016, normal faulting earthquake is an expression of the east-west extensional tectonics that now dominates along the Apennine belt, primarily a response to the Tyrrhenian basin opening faster than the compression between the Eurasia and Africa plates."
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