Many Italians in the northeastern Emilia Romagna region were forced to spend the night outside their homes after Sunday's earthquake and ensuing aftershocks toppled historic buildings and threatened other structures.
Some sought refuge in their cars, while others took advantage of temporary shelters provided by authorities and slept on cots. An estimated 3,000 people have been left homeless.
So far, six people have been killed and dozens injured. The dead include four nightshift workers in factories which collapsed in three different locations during the main quake Sunday morning. Another victim, a German woman, apparently succumbed to a panic attack. The final victim, a woman aged 103, was hit fatally by ceiling fragments.
In addition, churches, a wall at the city hall in Sant'Agostino de Ferrara, and the roof of a recently renovated sixth-century chapel caved in. Ferrara is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its Renaissance palaces.
Civil defense agency official Adriano Gumina said the quake was the worst to hit the region since the 1300s.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti cut short his visit to the NATO summit in Chicago to deal with the quake's aftermath as well as a bombing at a school on Saturday that killed one student.
In 2009, a 6.3 magnitude quake hit Italy's central city of L'Aquila, killing more than 300 people. Its historic center is still largely uninhabited and in ruins.
mz,ipj/tj (AFP, dpa, AP)