- Children said to be heard screaming in the rubble
- Town of Amatrice wiped out
- 38 dead including eight-month-old baby, his brother, nine, and their parents, who were buried in their sleep
- Aftershocks are impeding rescue workers
"Half the town is gone," said the mayor of Amatrice, one of the worst areas affected.
A family of four were feared dead in the rubble of their house in the nearby town of Accumoli.
The quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT), 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome, at a shallow depth of 10km.
Some buildings in the capital Rome shook for 20 seconds. Officials warned the number of fatalities was likely to rise.
Debris: This is an overhead view of Amatrice, whose historic centre has been wiped out by the powerful earthquake overnight.
The head of the civil protection department compared the earthquake's intensity to Aquila in April 2009 in which 309 people died the BBC reports.
The area is now suffering large aftershocks with a large mag 5.5 has struck in the last hour.
Yesterday a M6.0 - 132km N of Nebe, struck Indonesia which brings the total number of major quakes for August to 11 and a total of 91 for the year...
A mag 6.4 strikes the same area just two days after a massive magnitude 7.4 hit the South Georgia Island region
Near miss! A magnitude 6.0 strikes Japan north east of Fukushima
A massive magnitude 7.4 strikes South Georgia Island region
A massive M7.2 - New Caledonia and a M6.1 Fiji Islands are the 4th and 5th major quakes this month
A magnitude 6.1 - South Indian Ocean is the first major quake of August
A monster quake, magnitude 7.7 strikes - 31km SSW of Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands
A magnitude 6.0 - Off the coast of Aisen, Chile is the sixth major quake of July
A mag 6.4 - 128km SE of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea is the 5th major quake of the month
A mag 6.2 - 66km WNW of Diego de Almagro Chile is only the fourth major quake of July
San Andreas Fault rocking and rolling as hundreds of tremors strike since Sunday night!
A mag 6.0 - 76km NNW of Isangel, Vanuatu is only the third major quake of July
A mag 6.3 - rocks New Zealand with two large aftershock's of mag 5.7 and a large foreshock of mag 5.7
A magnitude 6.3 - 32km NW of Rosa Zarate, Ecuador is the first major quake of July
Major quakes not on the increase in 2016...An ave 72 half way through the year