Latest: Boy, 11, saved younger brother and alerted rescuers after three brothers were buried in quake

Update - 3.05pm: Three young brothers rescued from the rubble of their home after a 4.0-magnitude earthquake are doing well, according to hospital officials on the Italian resort island of Ischia.

The three boys - seven-month-old Pasquale, eight-year-old Mattias and 11-year-old Ciro - were brought to safety in a 14-hour operation.

Hospital officials said the boys are expected to be released on Wednesday.

Only Ciro suffered injuries with a minor fracture on his right foot. He is credited with helping save Mattias by pushing him under a bed, and drawing rescuers' attention by banging a broom handle on the rubble.

At least two people were killed in the quake while 39 were injured and 2,600 left homeless.

The fatalities were an elderly woman who was in a church that crumbled in the quake, and a second person who has been located in the rubble but not yet extracted.

Update 1.32pm: Firefighters in Italy have freed three young brothers from rubble after a 4.0-magnitude earthquake hit the resort island of Ischia.

At least two people were killed in the quake while 39 were injured and 2,600 left homeless.

The fatalities were an elderly woman who was in a church that crumbled in the quake, and a second person who has been located in the rubble but not yet extracted.

Video released by firefighters showed rescuers passing a seven-month-old baby out of the collapsed structure in hardest-hit Casamicciola.

The Ansa news agency said cries of joy went up in the crowd of rescuers and onlookers and the boys' mother ran to take him.

The baby's two older brothers were rescued hours later.

The children's father told RAI state television the boys were in a bedroom when the quake struck, while he and his wife were elsewhere in the house.

The mother, who Italian media said is heavily pregnant, escaped through a window while rescuers helped the father.

Firefighters' spokesman Luca Cari said they maintained voice contact with the two older boys during the complex rescue operation to create an opening through the collapsed ceiling. The boys had been given bottles of water and a flashlight.

The quake hit during the height of the tourist season, and Italian television showed many visitors taking refuge in parks following the quake. Authorities began organising ferries to take tourists back to the mainland.

Update 11.44am: Two children have been pulled from the rubble on the Italian resort island of Ischia, 14 hours after a 4.0-magnitude quake toppled buildings and killed at least one person, reports say.

Firefighters rescued a seven-month-old boy, who appeared alert on video as he was passed to safety, and later freed one of two older brothers.

Crews are continuing work to release the third boy.

Spokesman Luca Cari said the work to free the boys was complicated, but rescuers were maintaining voice contact with them.

The father told RAI state television that the boys were in their bedroom when the quake struck, while he and his wife were elsewhere in the house.

She managed to escape through a window while rescuers reached the father first.

Earlier:

At least one person has died and six others are trapped under the rubble of their homes after an earthquake hit the Italian resort island of Ischia at the peak of its tourist season.

Police said all but one of those known to be trapped, including three children, were responding to rescuers and expected to be brought out alive.

One person, however, was not communicating, raising fears the death toll could increase, said Giovanni Salerno of the financial police.

Italy's national volcanology institute said the temblor struck a few minutes before 9pm local time on Monday, when many people were having dinner.

The hardest-hit area was Casamicciola, on the northern part of the island.

There were great discrepancies in the magnitude reported.

Italy's volcanology agency put the initial magnitude at 3.6, but later revised it to a 4.0 sustained magnitude, and put the epicentre in the waters just off the island and a depth of three miles.

The US Geological Survey and the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre gave it a 4.3 magnitude, with a depth of six miles.

While such discrepancies and revisions are common, Italian officials complained that the Italian agency's initial low 3.6-magnitude greatly underestimated the power of the temblor.

At least one hotel and parts of a hospital were evacuated.

Roberto Allocca, a doctor at the Rizzoli hospital, told Sky TG24 that 26 people were being treated for minor injuries at a makeshift emergency room set up on the hospital grounds.

He said the situation was calm and under control.

Mr Salerno said one woman was killed by falling masonry from a church.

At least three people were pulled from the rubble alive, the civil protection authority said, adding that the island had sustained at least 14 aftershocks.

Civil protection crews, already on the island in force to fight the forest fires that have been ravaging southern Italy, were checking the status of the buildings that suffered damage.

Other rescue crews, as well as dogs trained to search for people under rubble, were arriving on ferries from the mainland.

Together with the nearby island of Capri, Ischia is a favourite island getaway for the European jet set, famed in particular for its thermal waters.

Casamicciola was the epicentre of an 1883 earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people.

The quake came just two days before the one-year anniversary of a powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake that devastated several towns in central Italy.

That temblor last August killed more than 250 people in Amatrice and beyond and set off a months-long series of powerful aftershocks that emptied many towns and hamlets of their people.


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