A magnitude 6.2 earthquake has struck central Italy, leaving at least six people dead and others trapped under rubble, Italian officials said.
Some buildings shook for 20 seconds, in accordance with La Repubblica newspaper.
A family of four had been found under debris in the town of Accumoli, the mayor Stefano Petrucci of the town told RAI TV.
Meanwhile authorities said two people had perished in the nearby hamlet of Pescara del Tronto, RAI reported.
“The roads in and out of town are cut off. Half the town is gone. There are people under the rubble… There’s been a landslide and a bridge might collapse,” mayor Sergio Perozzi told RAI radio.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency described the quake as “serious”.
“It was so strong. It appeared the bed was walking across the room by itself with us on it,” Lina Mercantini of Ceselli, Umbria, told Reuters.
Saving teams are being sent to the worst-hit regions, the office of the prime minister said.
Several strong aftershocks followed it, La Repubblica newspaper reported.
The deputy editor of the British newspaper, The Times, told the BBC that the quake lasted about 20 seconds followed by an aftershock about 20 minutes later which was readily as strong.
“It was pitch dark, very chilly. Nobody in our group had a clue what to do in an earthquake,” Emma Tucker said, who was in the area at the time.
The USGS predicted the damage could be critical, depending on data from previous quakes.
It said the quake struck near the Umbrian city of Norcia, whose picturesque historical centre is a popular tourist site.
Yet Norcia Mayor Nicola Alemanno said no deaths are reported there.
“The anti-seismic structures of the town have held,” he said. “There is damage to the historic heritage and buildings, but we don’t have any serious harms.”
In 2009, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the Aquila region, which was also felt in the Italian capital, made more than 300 dead.