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Multiple earthquakes hit central Italy

Three earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 5.0 have hit an already quake-damaged mountain region in central Italy. Tremors could reportedly also be felt in Rome more than 100 kilometers away.

Within an hour, three earthquakes with a magnitude of more than 5.0 hit central Italy on Wednesday morning. Tremors were reportedly felt not just in cities close to the quake, but also in Rome, over 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

The Rome subway was closed and schools were evacuated in both the region close to the quakes and the Italian capital as a safety precaution.  

There are no reported casualties so far. Antonio Tajani, an Italian politician who was just elected president of the European Parliament, said that while the quakes could be "felt as far as Rome, (it) appears there are no victims."

The quake's epicenters were located in the mountainous region between the historic cities of L'Aquila and Rieti. The same region was hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of over 6.0 last August, killing 299 people, and two successive earthquakes of similar scope in October.

As a result of last year's tragedy, the government had ordered many citizens to evacuate the earthquake-prone region. 

The latest tremors caused collapses in the mountain villages of Accumoli and Amatrice, Civil Protection Department chief Fabrizio Curcio told Italian broadcaster Rai News 2. Much of the region experienced 36 hours of continuous snowfall before this latest quake, which could impede recovery efforts.

Because Italy is located at the junction between two tectonic plates - the African and the European plate - the country has continuously been plagued by earthquakes, especially along its mountainous spine.

mb/msh/rt (AFP, AP, dpa)

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