While there were no immediate reports of damage early on Wednesday, but state-run RAI radio said people ran into the streets in central Umbria and Le Marche regions shortly after the quake struck just after 3:30 AM local time. However, as the damage was assessed later the death toll kept rising.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center put the magnitude at 6.1 and said the epicenter was northeast of Rome, near Rieti.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.2. It was felt in central Rome, as people in homes in the city's historic center felt a long swaying.