Powerful Earthquakes in Italy Kill Dozens and Shatter Towns

Strong earthquakes struck a mountainous stretch of central Italy early Wednesday, killing at least 38 people, trapping scores under debris and setting off tremors that awakened residents in Rome, nearly 100 miles to the southwest.

The first, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, struck at 3:36 a.m., followed by a 5.5-magnitude temblor at 4:33 a.m., both near the town of Norcia in the Umbria region. Over a three-hour period, about 40 quakes shook the region.

The death toll on Wednesday, reported by the Italian news media, was almost certain to rise, given that scores of people remained unaccounted for. The authorities said the first quake was comparable in intensity to a 2009 earthquake in the Abruzzo region of central Italy that killed more than 300 people.

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