The earthquake came .
Tuesday’s quake was followed by several aftershocks. Italy’s Institute of Geology said the aftershocks measured 5.3 and 5.1 magnitude. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded one aftershock at 5.6 magnitude just before 1 p.m. local time.
Tuesday’s earthquake was centered in the province of Modena, near Bologna. The towns of Mirandola and Cavezzo were closest to the epicenter, civil protection authorities said.
“People are very scared. It’s been shaking nonstop for the past week,” said journalist Andrea Vogt, who was near the epicenter.Eyewitnesses reported on Twitter that the town of Cavezzo is about 70% destroyed. Pictures purportedly from the town show widespread destruction, with buildings reduced to rubble.
“We don’t know how many are still trapped,” she told CNN. “Telephone lines are overloaded. It’s difficult to get through to emergency personnel.”
The earthquakes in the last 10 days have been “a real shock” to locals, she said, adding that no one could remember so many quakes in such a short period of time.
“Factories were full. Many of the workers were working on repairs to the already damaged buildings,” said Vogt, a freelance journalist based in Bologna.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was in a meeting discussing last week’s earthquake with the head of the civil protection agency and the governor of the region when the new earthquake hit.
“The state will do all what needs to be done, in the quickest way, to assure the return to normal life to such a special and productive region of the country,” Monti said in a televised statement.
“Some buildings that were damaged already in last week’s earthquake were affected again today. San Felice sul Panaro and Mirandola registered most of the damage,” a spokeswoman said.
At least 40 other aftershocks, most shallow and with a magnitude of 2 to 3, shook the region Tuesday, according to the Italian geological service.
Some train services have been suspended for safety reasons, and high-speed trains from Bologna to Milan and Florence, among others, are running at slower speeds, train operators said. There are no trains stuck on tracks, said Trenitalia, the Italian train system.
Northern Italy is the heartland of the country’s manufacturing industry.
“It’s going to have an economic impact as well as a human impact,” Vogt said of the earthquake.