Rome (CNN)-The metro system and some schools in Italy's capital, Rome, were being evacuated Wednesday following a series of powerful earthquakes that struck the heart of the country.
An initial 5.3-magnitude quake hit central Italy this morning 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) west-northwest of Amatrice, a town devastated by powerful temblors last year, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.
While the epicenter was 90 kilometers northeast of Rome, the quake was felt strongly in the capital, sending people running from buildings in a panic.
Eight aftershocks have been reported since the initial quake, including one as strong as 5.7, and all at a shallow 10 kilometers deep, the USGS reported.
There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage but firefighters told CNN that heavy snow blocking roads has hampered their initial assessment.
Disaster authorities in Rome said they had been inundated with hundreds of calls from the city.
Officials have begun looking for cracks and damage to structures in the city, many of them ancient and vulnerable from previous tremors.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni was in Berlin Wednesday, where he told journalists no victims had been reported in what he described as a "difficult day for our country."
"But continuous quakes of such a scale are alarming for the people repeatedly hit, and it's something the government is dealing with," he said.
"We are strengthening the deployment of the army to the affected areas, and we're monitoring the situation minute by minute."
Italy's Fire Department said in a Twitter post that around 850 firefighters were engaged in the operation, but there had been no requests for rescues so far.
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