Central Italy has been rocked by three earthquakes measuring between 5.1 and 5.6 on the Richter scale, reports Euronews.
The first quake hit around 10:25 CET, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The second quake was measured at 5.3 by the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) and the epicentre of the event was estimated at a depth of 9km (6.5 miles).
The third earthquake struck north of the mountainous Amatrice region between L’Aquila and Rieti, in the area of Montereale at around 11:26 CET, and measured at a magnitude of 5.6.
Tremors were felt in Lazio, Abruzzo, and Marche and even Rome itself. People have been evacuated from the metro system in Rome as a precaution, and a number of schools have also been evacuated.
— Alvise Armellini (@Boff23) January 18, 2017
According to The Sun, the Italian capital has experienced a number of small seismic events in recent weeks but this was by far the largest. Residents “described their homes and offices shaking as the tremor struck”, according to the newspaper.
Ansa reports small building collapses in Amatrice, with safety checks by firefighters complicated by the presence of snow. Central Italy has been in the grip of bitter winter weather conditions recently, with as many as 300,000 people left without power in Abruzzo, according to the BBC.
Civil Protection Chief Fabrizio Curcio said that the scope of the tremors, coupled with the snow, made a comprehensive assessment of the situation difficult. “The situation is quite complicated,” Curcio said. “We are receiving reports from all over the nation. Obviously the quake was felt clearly all over the centre, as far as the capital. ”
Antonio Tajani, the newly elected President of the European Parliament, told AP that while the shockwaves were “felt as far as Rome [it] appears there are no victims.’ ‘Thousands of phone calls have been made to the emergency services, reports La Repubblica.
Amatrice was rocked by three seismic events last year on August 24, with a 6.2 magnitude earthquake killing almost three-hundred people.
Bus services are being laid on to ease disruption to the transport network in Rome, and parents have been called to collect their children from the schools.