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Thursday, March 26, 1998 Published at 22:56 GMT

World: Europe

Quake hits Italian mountain towns
image: [ Emergency services respond to the emergency ]
Emergency services respond to the emergency

A powerful earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale has shaken central Italy.

The BBC's Rome correspondent Orla Guerin reports (1'43')
The epicentre was just north-east of Assisi, where a similar earthquake last September killed 12 people and severely damaged the Basilica of St Francis.

People in the Umbria and Marche regions of the Appennini mountains raced from their homes as buildings shook on Thursday.

About 9,000 people in Umbria and Marche are still living in temporary housing after the September earthquake.

The quake was spread out to a radius of more than 90 miles and was felt as far away as Rome in the south and Venice in the north.

[ image: Residents left buildings during the 10-second earthquake]
Residents left buildings during the 10-second earthquake
A civil protection agency spokesman said the epicentre was in Gualdo Tadino in Umbria, 25 miles (40km) north-east of Assisi.

No injuries have been reported in the earthquake but damage was caused to the historic centre of the Renaissance walled town of Urbino, south of the Republic of San Marino

Plasterwork fell from buildings in the town, the birthplace of 16th century master Raphael.

Last September, two earthquakes measuring 5.5 and 5.6 caused widespread damage and killed 12.

Four of the victims were Franciscan monks, who died in the second quake as they inspected damage to the Basilica of St Francis caused by first tremor.

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