At least 90 people are believed dead and tens of thousands homeless after an earthquake hit L'Aquila and other towns in central Italy, rescuers say.
About 1,500 people were injured and many people are still missing as rescuers search desperately for survivors trapped beneath rubble.
The 6.3-magnitude quake struck at 0330 (0130 GMT) close to L'Aquila.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is in the city, has promised a "record number of rescuers".
"Nobody has been left on their own," he said, adding that a field hospital was being set up to help local medical services. Earlier, he declared a state of emergency.
Altogether, 26 cities and towns have been damaged, officials say. In L'Aquila, 95km (60 miles) north-east of Rome, between 3,000 and 10,000 buildings in the medieval city may have been damaged.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 people are believed to have lost their homes and the authorities are working to find them shelter before nightfall.
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in L'Aquila described bemused and confused locals wrapped in blankets and carrying their personal belongings in suitcases walking, like a stream of refugees, through the devastation.
The rescue service is stretched to breaking point as it tries to reach all the devastated buildings and deal with the mounting casualty toll, our correspondent adds.
State of emergency
Earlier, the mayor of L'Aquila, Massimo Cialente, said some 100,000 people had left their homes.
Latest from Duncan Kennedy, L'Aquila
Here in the centre of the city, building after building has been left destroyed or half standing with cracks and holes.
We watched as rescue workers struggled to pull out survivors, crawling on their stomachs to try to reach those trapped inside.
There is a stream of almost ghostly figures, local people caught up in the early hours this morning in this earthquake, who are pouring past us wearing blankets.
They are pulling suitcases and luggage past this collapsed building trying to get to safety. People are wandering around in a dazed state.
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