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At least 15 killed in Italian earthquake

- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MIRANDOLA, Italy — A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck northern Italy on Tuesday, killing at least 15 people and injuring more than 200 as factories, warehouses and a church collapsed in the same region still struggling to recover from another deadly tremor nine days ago.

In a hastily called news conference, Prime Minister Mario Monti pledged that the government will do "all that it must and all that is possible in the briefest period to guarantee the resumption of normal life in this area that is so special, so important and so productive for Italy."

Italy is in the midst of another recession and struggling to tame its massive debt as the European debt crisis worsens. The region around Bologna, a hub for agriculture and industry in the country.

The quake hit just after 9 a.m. local time and was centered 25 miles northwest of the city of Bologna, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It is the same area where a 6.0-magnitude temblor killed seven people nine days earlier.

The quake was felt from Piedmont in northwestern Italy to Venice in the northeast and as far north as Austria. It was followed by many aftershocks, some registering more than magnitude 5.0.

The ANSA news agency reported that 15 people had died and 200 were hurt, while the LaPresse news agency said others were still buried under the rubble of collapsed homes and factories. Emergency crews were trying to sift through the twisted steel and broken stone, looking for victims.

In Mirandola, near the quake's epicenter, the main cathedral collapsed along with the town's oldest church.

Many victims of the new quake, like the one May 20, were at work in huge warehouses that collapsed, including one dead inside a machinery factory in Mirandola.

The mayor of San Felice sul Panaro told Sky News 24 that there were fatalities in his town, where Italian media said a tower had collapsed.

Tall buildings and schools were evacuated as far away as Milan as a precaution before people were allowed to re-enter. Train lines connecting Bologna with other northern cities were halted while authorities checked for any damage.

When the quake hit, Mr. Monti was meeting with emergency officials in Rome to discuss the impact of the earlier quake, which struck in the middle of the night and left at least 7,000 homeless.

The May 20 quake was described by Italian emergency officials as the worst to hit the region since the 1300s.

In addition to the deaths, it knocked down a clock tower and other centuries-old buildings and caused millions in losses to a region known for making Parmesan cheese. Its epicenter was about 22 miles north of Bologna.

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