24 Aug 2016

'Three quarters of the town is not there anymore'

9:59 pm on 24 August 2016

The small town of Amatrice is among those worst affected by today's 6.2 magnitude earthquake in central Italy, with its mayor describing widespread devastation.

The quake hit at 3:36am (1.36pm NZT), 76km southeast of the city of Perugia, at the very shallow depth of 10km.

The worst affected towns are believed to include Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta, Pescara del Tronto and Arquata del Tronto, with at least 20 people believed to be dead.

Review RNZ's live coverage or read the summary of events so far.

Two bodies were removed from the debris in Amatrice, Reuters reported - with images showing widespread damage to the town.

"Three quarters of the town is not there anymore," Amatrice mayor Sergio Pirozzi told Italian national public broadcaster RAI. "The aim now is to save as many lives as possible. There are voices under the rubble, we have to save the people there."

A Reuters reporter said the town's hospital had been badly damaged by the quake, with patients moved into the streets.