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Rome rattled by small earthquake

A small earthquake shook Rome and nearby coastal towns on Monday, briefly sparking panic throughout the region and killing an elderly man who was knocked off a ladder by the tremor, officials said.
/ Source: Reuters

A small earthquake shook Rome and nearby coastal towns on Monday, briefly sparking panic throughout the region and killing an elderly man who was knocked off a ladder by the tremor, officials said.

The earthquake had a magnitude of 4.5 and the epicenter was under the seabed southwest of Rome near the coastal town of Anzio, Italy’s National Geographic Institute said.

“For the region, it was pretty big and terrified a lot of people,” institute president Enzo Boschi said.

Residents and workers throughout Rome fled their homes and offices as buildings in the Italian capital shook for around five seconds shortly after 2 p.m. local time.

No injuries or damages were initially reported in Rome, but further south in the town of Ardea an elderly man slipped off a ladder and died, local authorities said.

Holidaymakers in Anzio and along the coast were seized by panic when the quake hit, pouring out of hotels and into the streets.

“It felt very strong, my legs are still shaking,” Valentina, an employee at Anzio city hall, told Reuters.

Boschi said that institute “hotlines have been flooded. Everybody is only thinking about a tsunami, even if an earthquake would have to be a lot stronger to cause a tsunami.”

The Indian Ocean quake that triggered a tsunami on Dec. 26 last year was the biggest in 40 years and left more than 230,000 people dead or missing.

In 2002, an earthquake in central Italy flattened a school, killing 29 and wiping out almost an entire generation of six-and seven-year-olds in the small town of San Giuliano di Puglia.