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Strong quake in southern Italy causes panic

A strong earthquake has rocked a rural part of southern Italy, sending panicked residents into the streets in the middle of the night. Authorities reported no injuries or major damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 5.3. The temblor struck at 1:05 a.m. Friday (23:05 GMT Thursday), rattling small towns in northern Calabria and southern Basilicata, in an area which includes Pollino national park. Some houses suffered cracks.

Local authorities said a hospital was evacuated as a precaution. Some mayors ordered schools to be closed so experts could inspect for any damage.

The area is prone to earthquakes. Seismologist Rita Di Giovambattista told Sky TG24 TV that a series of much smaller tremors has rattled the area since 2010.