New strong earthquake hits central Italy, buildings collapse

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ROME, Oct 30 (Reuters) - A strong earthquake measuring 6.6 magnitude struck central Italy on Sunday, causing the collapse of more buildings in small cities and towns already shaken by tremors in the past two months, although there no immediate reports of casualties.

It was a bigger quake than one which hit central Italy on Aug. 24, killing almost 300 people. There have been thousands of aftershocks in the weeks since then, including two particularly strong tremors last Wednesday.

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Earthquake in Visso, central Italy
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Earthquake in Visso, central Italy
A firefighter with a rescue dog search a collapsed building after an earthquake in Borgo Sant'Antonio near Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A Virgin Mary statue is seen in a collapsed church after an earthquake in Borgo Sant'Antonio near Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A painting is seen in a collapsed church after an earthquake in Borgo Sant'Antonio near Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Sport equipment is seen in a collapsed store after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A firefighter carries jackets after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A man sits on a camping bed after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
An Italian army soldier carries supplies after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
An Italian army soldier carries supplies after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Two women carry their belongings after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A collapsed building is seen after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Firefighters walks in front of a collapsed building after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A woman carries her belongings after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A man covers himself with a blanket after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi
A woman carries her belongings after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A collapsed building is seen next to a petrol station after an earthquake in Visso, central Italy, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Still image from video shows a man trying to remove rubble from a road after an earthquake in Visso, Italy October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Reuters Tv
A picture shows a damaged church in the village of Visso, central Italy, that was hit by earthquakes, on October 27, 2016. Twin earthquakes rocked central Italy on October 26, 2016 -- the second registering at a magnitude of 6.0 -- in the same region struck in August by a devastating tremor that killed nearly 300 people. The quakes were felt in the capital Rome, sending residents running out of their houses and into the streets. The second was felt as far away as Venice in the far north, and Naples, south of the capital. / AFP / TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a destroyed house in the village of Borgo Sant'Antonio hit by earthquakes, on October 27, 2016 near Visso, central Italy. Twin earthquakes rocked central Italy on October 26, 2016 -- the second registering at a magnitude of 6.0 -- in the same region struck in August by a devastating tremor that killed nearly 300 people. The quakes were felt in the capital Rome, sending residents running out of their houses and into the streets. The second was felt as far away as Venice in the far north, and Naples, south of the capital. / AFP / TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a damaged building in the village of Visso, central Italy, on October 27, 2016. Twin earthquakes rocked central Italy on October 26, 2016 -- the second registering at a magnitude of 6.0 -- in the same region struck in August by a devastating tremor that killed nearly 300 people. The quakes were felt in the capital Rome, sending residents running out of their houses and into the streets. The second was felt as far away as Venice in the far north, and Naples, south of the capital. / AFP / TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a destroyed building in the village of Visso, central Italy, on October 26, 2016. Twin earthquakes rocked central Italy on October 26, 2016 -- the second registering at a magnitude of 6.0 -- in the same region struck in August by a devastating tremor that killed nearly 300 people. The quakes were felt in the capital Rome, sending residents running out of their houses and into the streets. The second was felt as far away as Venice in the far north, and Naples, south of the capital. / AFP / TIZIANA FABI (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Italy's emergency services said there was serious damage in multiple locations in the central regions of Marche and Umbria on Sunday. State broadcaster RAI said three people were rescued from rubble in the town of Ussita, but there were no reports of deaths.

The ancient Basilica of St. Benedict in the walled town of Norcia, almost 100 kilometers from Perugia, was devastated by the quake, the monks said. Images on television showed one side of the church reduced to rubble, and another church in the town center also collapsed.

Local authorities said many towns and villages already battered by the 6.2 quake in August had seen further significant damage."This morning's quake has hit the few things that were left standing. We will have to start from scratch," Michele Franchi, the deputy mayor of Arquata del Tronto, told Rai television.

Many of these places were evacuated after the August disaster and were largely deserted on Sunday morning when the quake hit at around 7.40 a.m. (0640 GMT)

The earthquake was felt as far north as Bolzano, near the border with Austria and as far south as the Puglia region at the southern tip of the Italian peninsula.

It was also felt strongly in the capital Rome, where transport authorities closed down the metro system for checks.

Italy sits on two fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active countries in Europe.

Before this year, the last major earthquake to hit the country struck the central city of L'Aquila in 2009, killing more than 300 people.

The most deadly since the start of the 20th century came in 1908, when an earthquake followed by a tsunami killed an estimated 80,000 people in the southern regions of Reggio Calabria and Sicily.

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