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>> At least 15 people dead after a strong earthquake hit central Italy in the early hours of Wednesday. A 6.2 magnitude quake striking near the town of Norcia in Umbria. The mayor of the small town of Amatrice reporting extensive damage. He told Italian TV that half the town is gone and that there has been a landslide.
The quake felt strongly even in Rome, some 170 kilometers from the epicenter. Crispian Balmer is Reuters' chief correspondent in the capital.>> There has been a lot of damage in three villages in particular. The photographs and video we're seeing shows a significant number of buildings have collapsed. What we're not quite sure about is actually how many people were living in those buildings at the time, because these are quite remote areas and they're not necessarily always lived in.
>> Italy's Civil Protection Agency calling the quake severe. A 5.5 magnitude aftershock hit about an hour after the initial shaking. Emergency services getting into full swing from first light.>> Well the government is now sending heavy lifting equipment to the worst affected areas. The earthquake happened in the early hours of the morning.
It was still dark. It was very difficult to get a clear assessment of what was going on. As soon as daylight came, they put up helicopters to fly over the area to see what villages, what towns needed the most help.>> Italy is no stranger to earthquakes. The last major temblor to strike the country hit the central city of L'Aquila in 2009.
It killed more than 300 people.