By BosNewsLife News Center

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Searching for survivors in Italy.

ROME, ITALY (BosNewsLife)– Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi canceled a trip to Russia and declared a state of emergency after a powerful early morning earthquake in central Italy killed scores of people and left many people injured and tens of thousands of people homeless.

“I was shaken from my bed at night,” a Rome resident told BosNewsLife. The United States Geological Survey said Monday’s quake registered a magnitude of 6.3 and was felt 100 kilometers (62 miles) in the capital Rome.

Officials said the quake centered near the medieval town of L’Aquila, east of Rome, in the mountainous Abruzzo region. Witnesses told reporters that older homes and buildings made of stone collapsed like straw houses.

At least 92 people were known to have died, the Italian news agency Ansa reported, quoting local rescue workers. Children were among the dead, news reports said. More than 1,500 people had been injured, the Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, told a press conference in L’Aquila, the badly damaged capital of the Abruzzo region, close to the quake’s epicentre.

Up to 50,000 people may have been left homeless by this morning’s quake, a spokesman for Italy’s civil protection agency said. The need for shelter is all the more urgent in a region where night-time temperatures remain just above 5C (41F).

Monday’s tremor, which struck at 3.32am local time, was described as the country’s deadliest since the Irpinia quake in the south in November 1980, which killed more than 2,500 people. (BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments impacting the Church and/or¬†compassionate professionals).

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