Elderly man dies as earthquake hits southern Italy
ROME (AFP) - Panic-stricken residents rushed into the streets fearing building collapses when a 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck a southern Italian province today, while an elderly man died from a heart attack.
The 84-year-old victim suffered heart failure when the quake struck the province of Cosenza and was dead before the emergency services could reach him.
No injuries have been reported but several buildings have been damaged. A local hospital was also evacuated and schools closed as a precautionary measure. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake, with a 5.3 magnitude, at a depth of 3.8 kms, had its epicentre six kilometres south east of Mormanno town in the Calabria region.
"Some plaster fell, a crack appeared in the stairway, we came down in a panic to the streets using our mobile phones for light," Mormanno bed-and-breakfast owner Giuseppina Capalbi told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Many homes in the town centre suffered damage and police said it would take some hours to evaluate the scale of the problem, as local officials decided to close schools.