Rescue operations were underway and the death toll could continue to rise as an unknown number of people were trapped in rubble. Many people rushed into the streets in a panic after the earthquake hit.
Many buildings, including very old structures, were destroyed about 120 miles from the city of L'Aquila. A civil protection official told BBC that 3,000 to 10,000 buildings were damaged. Thousands could be left homeless from the quake, but this information will continue unfolding as rescue and damage surveys continue.
Aftershocks were felt over a wide area in Italy, including in Rome.
This earthquake follows after a 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit northern Italy late on Sunday.
Story by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Meghan Evans.