ROME -- A strong earthquake on Tuesday devastated north-central Italy for the second time in less than two weeks, leaving at least 13 people dead, some 200 injured and 14,000 homeless.
Seismologists said that the worst of the dozens of shocks felt throughout the day in the Emilia Romagna region came about 9 a.m. and registered magnitude 5.8. Factories collapsed, roofs of homes caved in and, as with the magnitude 6.0 quake in the same area on May 20, historic towers and churches crumbled into massive piles of bricks.
News reports said that 12 people were still missing and rescue squads continued to look through the rubble in the affected towns, most of them small but distinguished for their historic centers, some dating to the 14th century.
Seven people were killed and about 5,000 left without homes in the May 20 quake. Many of those were being housed in tents set up in fields.
The Civil Protection Agency, the government body responsible for search and rescue efforts as well as providing food and shelter for the people affected by the earthquake, on Tuesday estimated that the total number of homeless reached 14,000.
The morning quake was felt all over northern Italy, and aftershocks continued throughout the day, some exceeding 5.0.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti pledged that the government would do all it could to “guarantee the resumption of normal life in this area that is so special, so important and so productive for Italy."
Emilia Romagna, with Bologna as its capital, is known for being industrious and prosperous and is most famous for the production of Parmesan cheese and prosciutto, Italy’s trademark cured ham.
Several of the people killed were workers in factories where simply built roofs collapsed.
Volunteers were arriving from all over Italy to help organize the terrified population in tent cities spread around the area and provide food and blankets.
-- Sarah Delaney
Photo: Rescue teams use dogs to look for three workers reported missing at a factory in Medolla, Italy, following a Tuesday morning earthquake. Credit: Luca Bruno / Associated Press