Three men working the night shift in two different factories on the outskirts of the small town of Sant’Agostino died when the buildings in which they were working collapsed. Another one was killed outside of Bondeno. Italy’s National Civil Protection Agency said in a note that a woman had died of causes resulting from the shock of the quake.”
The civil protection agency also said that at least 3,000 people were left homeless, the news service ANSA reported. Many areas of Italy are considered to be at high risk for earthquakes.
A quake in 1976 killed nearly a thousand people in Friuli Venezia Giulia, and almost 3,000 died in the Campania earthquake of 1980.
Three years ago, an earthquake in the area of L’Aquila, in central Italy, killed more than 300 people. While rebuilding has advanced in many villages in the region, the historic center of L’Aquila itself remains a ghost town and there has been public outcry over delays in reconstruction there.
But in Emilia Romagna, seismic events of this kind have been more rare. Mr. Gregori said that the last quake of this magnitude in the area was in the 14th century. “For man, seven centuries are a lot, for nature it is nothing,” he said.
Other geophysicists cited an earthquake that severely damaged Ferrara in 1570 as another precedent.
On Sunday afternoon, another tremor initially measured at a magnitude of 5.1 by the U.S.G.S., caused further havoc, felling other structures, and hampering the work of rescue teams.
Areas in some of the hardest-hit towns, scattered across a vast swath of Italy’s agricultural heartland, were cordoned off while officials expressed concern about the stability of some historic buildings.
After an initial survey of the area’s culturally relevant monuments and churches, the Culture Ministry said in a note that the damage had been extensive. Ministry experts were working with civil protection agency officials and firefighters to monitor the situation, and three state museums in Ferrara had been closed, the ministry said.
Engineers and surveyors traveled through the area monitoring roads and bridges, according to Stefano Vaccari, the lawmaker who oversees the civil protection agency for Modena Province. Railway lines, roads and telecommunications had returned to normal, except for one secondary train line, the National Civil Protection Agency said.
Officials said that schools would be closed for several days, and that makeshift camps, able to house many hundreds, would be set up in various towns for those in need of shelter.