Second powerful earthquake strikes Italy - at least 17 dead (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
The quake hit 51 kilometers north-east of the city of Parma at a depth of 9.6 kilometers in the province of Ferrara at 09:03 GMT.
Authorities have confirmed 17 people dead and more than 200 injured.
The mayor of San Felice sul Panaro, a town 40 kilometers northwest of Bologna, told Sky News Italy that “people were trapped under the rubble” there.
In a hastily-called news conference, Prime Minister Mario Monti pledged the government will do “all that it must and all that is possible in the briefest period to guarantee the resumption of normal life in this area that is so special, so important and so productive for Italy.”
The powerful quake was felt across northern and central Italy, including the most populous northern city, Milan. Buildings and schools have been evacuated throughout the area.
Some train services have been suspended for the time authorities were checking for damage. Phone communication has also been disrupted in areas of the north.
The tremor was followed by several large aftershocks, one of 5.6 magnitude, with more aftershocks feared.
On May 20, a 6.0-magnitude devastating quake hit the region, causing havoc. After the initial quake the region was battered by a series of strong aftershocks.
The tremor brought down many historic buildings across the north of the country.
Italy experiences frequent seismic activity on a small scale, although large tremors are comparatively rare.
People walk past a collapsed building, after an earthquake, in Cavezzo near Modena May 29, 2012 (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti)
Rescue workers patrol a damaged building, after an earthquake, in Medolla near Modena May 29, 2012 (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti)
Rescue workers patrol a building which was damaged, after an earthquake, in Medolla near Modena May 29, 2012 (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti)