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Earthquake in Northern Italy

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Last Sunday, May 20, a strong and unusually shallow earthquake struck northern Italy, killing at least seven people, damaging or destroying hundreds of structures, and leaving thousands homeless. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake occurred just after 4 a.m. local time, at a depth of only 5 km (3 mi). The affected region is home to countless historic churches, castles, and towers -- many of which were damaged or toppled. Displaced families are taking shelter in tents erected on local soccer fields as rescue workers search for survivors and recovery crews try to salvage historic artifacts from the rubble. [30 photos]

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Half of a clock face on Modenesi's Towers of Finale Emilia, destroyed following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Ferrara, Italy. (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Half of a clock face on Modenesi's Towers of Finale Emilia, destroyed following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Ferrara, Italy. (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images)
Dust rises from a building in San Felice Sul Panaro, damaged following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Modena province. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images) #
A rescue worker walks in front of the facade of the town hall after a powerful earthquake that shook Italy's industrial and densely populated northeast early on May 20, 2012 in Sant'Agostino village in Modena province. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/GettyImages) #
A woman cries following an earthquake, in Sant'Agostino, on May 20. 2012. One of the worst quakes to hit northeast Italy in hundreds of years rattled the region around Bologna early Sunday, killing at least seven people, collapsing factories and sending residents running out into the streets, emergency services said. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
Destroyed cars in the rubble after an earthquake in Finale Emilia, on May 20, 2012. A strong earthquake rocked a large swath of northern Italy early on Sunday, killing at least three people and causing serious damage to the area's cultural heritage. (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti) #
A view of the quake-destroyed San Carlo old church, in San Carlo, northern Italy, on May 21. 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
Oriano Caretti looks at the overturned shelves with Parmesan wheels in his Parmesan cheese factory in San Giovanni in Persiceto, Italy, on May 21. 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
Overturned shelves of Parmesan cheese wheels in a cheese factory in San Giovanni, Italy, on May 21. 2012, following an earthquake the day before. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
A firefighter checks a cross that fell from a church roof in Crevalcore near Bologna, on May 20, 2012. (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti) #
A quake-damaged building in Finale Emilia, on May 21, 2012. Thousands of people in northern Italy slept in tents and cars overnight as more than 100 aftershocks rocked the area hit by a magnitude 6.0 earthquake that killed seven people and inflicted heavy damage to centuries-old cultural sites. (Reuters/ Giorgio Benvenuti) #
Policemen walk by the body of one of the victims who died during an earthquake at a ceramics factory in Sant-Agostino, on May 20, 2012. (Pierre Teyssot/AFP/GettyImages) #
A silo lies on ground in a factory after falling during the earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Burana, between Modena and Ferrara in northern Italy. (Pierre Teyssot/AFP/Getty Images) #
A car is crushed under fallen masonry beside a devastated house following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Ferrara, Italy. (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images) #
People take shelter in a car in Finale Emilia, some 60 kilometers east of Bologna in northern Italy, after the region was hit by an earthquake early Sunday, May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini) #
A woman evacuated from her home looks from the window of a car in Sant'Agostino, Italy, on May 20. 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
A statue of Jesus Christ among the rubble inside the destroyed San Carlo old church, in San Carlo, Italy, on May 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
The destroyed church in San Carlo on May 21, 2012 following an earthquake the day before. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images) #
The interior of the town hall, seen through a hole in the wall right after the earthquake struck Sant'Agostino, on May 20. 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
Displaced residents walk in a tent care center in Finale Emilia, on Monday, May 21. 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
Ada, who was evacuated from her home, closes the window of her tent in a care center in Finale Emilia, on May 21. 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
A woman kisses a child in an emergency tent in Finale Emilia, on May 21, 2012. Thousands of people in northern Italy slept in tents and cars overnight as more than 100 aftershocks rocked the area hit by a magnitude 6.0 earthquake that killed seven people and inflicted heavy damage to centuries-old cultural sites. (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti) #
A boy looks at the damaged old tower of Delle Rocche castle after an earthquake in Finale Emilia May 20, 2012. Shortly afterward, a strong aftershock brought down the remaining half of the tower. (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti) #
Products are scattered on the floor of a market in Finale Emilia, early Monday, May 21. 2012 following an earthquake. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) #
Firemen recover a painting from a destroyed church in the village of San Carlo after an earthquake, in Modena province, on May 20, 2012. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images) #
The factory of Sant'Agostino Ceramics is flattened following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Ferrara, Italy. (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images) #
A firefighter and a dog crawl over earthquake debris in Sant'Agostino, Italy, on May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Valerio Podrini, Vigili del Fuoco) #
Ruins at the Castello delle Rocche following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Finale Emilia, Italy. (Pierre Teyssot/AFP/GettyImages) #
A woman stands outside a tent at the tent camp in Finale Emilia village on May 21, 2012, following an earthquake the day before. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images) #
Rubble is strewn around the church of Finale Emilia following an earthquake on May 20, 2012 in Ferrara, Italy. (Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images) #
A girl receives a cup of hot tea in an emergency tent in Finale Emilia, on May 21, 2012. (Reuters/Giorgio Benvenuti) #

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