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Last Updated: Monday April 06 2009 16:00 GMT

Powerful Italian quake kills many

A policeman in Italy

Powerful Italian quake kills many

At least 150 people are thought to have been killed after a powerful earthquake struck in central Italy.

Children are thought to be among the dead, and many people may still be trapped inside collapsed buildings.

The earthquake struck at around 3.30am on Monday morning in Italy, around 95km from Rome. The centre of the quake was in a city called L'Aquila.

Reports suggest that as many as 50,000 people have been left homeless following the earthquake.

There are worries that the number of people killed may rise, as rescuers have not been able to get to smaller villages yet.

Buildings destroyed in Italy

Buildings destroyed in Italy quake

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has declared a state of emergency, and has cancelled a visit to Moscow, Russia to travel to the area.

The city of L'Aquila is an old one, with many of the buildings built hundreds of years ago.

Pictures have shown collapsed buildings in L'Aquilla and rescue workers leading people away from what's left of them.

Some of them have been using their bare hands to clear rubble to try to get to people still trapped.

Quake felt in Rome

A map of Italy

The quake was also felt in Rome, where a BBC journalist working there said he had been woken up by the shaking.

Two smaller earthquakes struck the same region of Italy on Sunday but caused no damage.