Magnitude 4.8 earthquake in Sicily injures at least 30 people, damages buildings

VIDEO: REUTERS
An earthquake measuring magnitude 4.8 hit the area north of Catania in Sicily, Italy on Dec 26, 2018.
An earthquake measuring magnitude 4.8 hit the area north of Catania in Sicily, Italy on Dec 26, 2018.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM EARTHQUAKE.USGS.GOV

CATANIA, ITALY (REUTERS) - An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.8 hit an area north of Catania on the slopes of Mount Etna in 
Sicily early on Wednesday (Dec 26), damaging buildings and injuring about 30 people, officials said. 

It hit two days after Etna, Europe's highest and most active volcano, erupted, sending a huge column of ash into the sky and causing the temporary closure of Catania airport on Sicily's eastern coast.

The earthquake hit at 3.19am (10.19 am Singapore time), prompting many people to run out of their homes and sleep in cars.

It was felt strongly because its epicentre was a relatively shallow 1km deep, officials said.

Television footage showed damage to older buildings in the towns of Santa Venerina and Zafferana Etnea.

Several of the area’s centuries-old churches appeared to suffer the most damage. They were empty at the time of the quake.

About 30 people suffered injuries, mostly from falling masonry as they fled from their homes, officials said. About 10 were taken to hospital by ambulances, the others were taken by friends and family members. None of the injuries were serious.