At least 16 people have been killed in the second earthquake to hit Italy in just over a week. The 5.8-magnitude quake struck near the Italian city of Modena, sending panicked residents rushing into the streets.
Italian authorites say at least 16 people were killed and many more injured by the quake which struck at 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Tuesday. Tremors were still being felt hours afterwards, with a 5.3 magnitude aftershock reported at around 1 p.m. (11 GMT).
Rescue services rushed to help an unknown number of people left trapped under collapsed buildings in the wake of the second deadly earthquake to hit the region this month.
In a hastily called news conference, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti pledged that the government would do "all that it must and all that is possible in the briefest period to guarantee the resumption of normal life in this area so special, so important and so productive for Italy."
"I send the government's condolences to the families of the victims and call on all citizens to have faith. I'm sure we'll get over this moment," he added.
According the US Geological survey, the epicenter of Tuesday's quake was less than 30 km (19 miles) from Modena. It struck at a depth of 9.6 km (6 miles) and could be felt across much of northern and central Italy.
The parish priest in the town of Carpi was also found dead. It was not immediately clear whether he died of shock or was killed in the quake.
Quake victims left homeless
On May 20, a magnitude-5 earthquake killed seven people and destroyed hundreds of buildings, causing millions in losses.
Around 7,000 people who fled their homes in the regions are still living in 89 tent camps hastily erected in fields, sports fields, car parks and schools. The number of homeless is estimated to be around 5,260 people.
Last week's quake was described by Italian emergency officials as the worst to hit the region since the 1300s. Its epicenter struck about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Bologna.
Italy's friendly soccer match against Luxembourg, scheduled to take in Parma on Tuesday, was canceled in the aftermath of the quake.
ccp, ng/pfd (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)