At least four people have been killed in a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck northern Italy near Bologna, according to reports.
The quake that struck at just after 4am local time was centred 21.75 miles north-northwest of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of six miles, the US Geological Survey said.
Italian news agency Ansa, citing emergency services, said two people were killed in Sant'Agostino di Ferrara when a ceramics factory collapsed.
Another person was killed in Ponte Rodoni do Bondeno.
In late January, A 5.4-magnitude quake shook northern Italy.
Some office buildings in Milan were evacuated as a precaution and there were scattered reports of falling masonry and cracks in buildings.
The tremor was one of the strongest to shake the region, seismologists said.
Initial television footage indicated that older buildings had suffered damage. Roofs collapsed, church towers showed cracks and the bricks of some stone walls tumbled into the street during the quake. As dawn broke over the region, residents milled about the streets inspecting the damage.
Italy's Sky TG24 showed images of the collapsed ceramics factory in Sant'Agostino di Ferrara where the two workers were reportedly killed. The structure, which appeared to be a hangar of sorts, had twisted metal supports jutting out at odd angles amid the mangled collapsed roof.
The quake "was a strong one, and it lasted quite a long time", said Emilio Bianco, receptionist at Modena's Canalgrande hotel, housed in an ornate 18th century palazzo.
The hotel suffered no damage and Modena itself was spared, but guests spilled into the streets as soon as the quake hit, he said.
Many people were still awake in the town since it was a "white night", with shops and restaurants open all night. Museums were supposed to have remained open as well but closed following the bombing of a school in southern Italy that killed one person.
The quake epicentre was between the towns of Finale Emilia, San Felice sul Panaro and Sermide, but was felt as far away as Tuscany and northern Alto Adige.
The initial quake was followed about an hour later by a 5.1-magnitude aftershock, USGS said. And it was preceded by a 4.1-magnitude tremor.
In late January, a 5.4-magnitude quake shook northern Italy. Some office buildings in Milan were evacuated as a precaution and there were scattered reports of falling masonry and cracks in buildings.
In 2009, a devastating tremor killed more than 300 people in the central city of L'Aquila.