MILAN — A magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit northern Italy on Tuesday, killing at least 10 people in the same region still struggling to recover from another fatal tremor on May 20.
Premier Mario Monti pledged in a hastily called news conference that 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 quake, which struck just after 9:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), was centered 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the city of Bologna, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was just miles from where a 6.0 temblor killed seven people earlier this month. The quake was felt from Piedmont in northwestern Italy to Venice in the northeast, and as far north as Austria.
The ANSA news agency reported that 10 people had died, while the LaPresse news agency said others were still buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and factories. Concordia Mayor Carlo Marchini confirmed the death of one person struck by falling debris in the town’s historic center.
The mayor of San Felice sul Panaro told Sky News 24 that there were fatalities in his town. News media said a tower in the town had collapsed.
As far away as Milan, tall buildings and schools were evacuated as a precaution before people were allowed to re-enter. Train lines connecting Bologna with other northern cities were stopped while authorities checked for any damage.
When the quake hit Tuesday, Monti was meeting with emergency officials in Rome to discuss the impact of the earlier quake, which struck in the middle of the night and left at least 7,000 homeless.
Television footage on Sky News 24 showed evacuees from the May 20 quake peering out of their shaking emergency tents in disbelief. In the first quake, four of the victims were working overnight shifts in factories that collapsed; the other three died of heart conditions or other illnesses brought on by fear.
Residents had just been taking tentative steps toward resuming normal life when the second quake struck. In the town of Sant’Agostino, a daycare center had just reopened. In the town of Concordia, the mayor had scheduled a town meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the aftermath of the first quake.
The May 20 quake was described by Italian emergency officials as the worst to hit the region since the 1300s. In addition to the deaths, it knocked down a clock tower and other centuries-old buildings and caused millions in losses to a region known for making Parmesan cheese. Its epicenter was about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Bologna.