Earthquake-rattled residents of northeast Italy have spent the night in cars, tents and in emergency accommodation fearing aftershocks from the magnitude-6.0 quake that killed seven people Sunday.
"The fear that your house will collapse on your head is great, so it was good to be able to sleep in this tent," one man who spent the night outdoors in the town of San Felice Sul Panaro told Reuters.
Resident Donatella Gadda told the Associated Press that she spent the night in her car, too afraid to sleep at home even though civil protection officials said it was safe.
Filomenna Gatti, a mother of three children under 6 quoted by CNN, said: "I close my eyes and I see stones falling and I feel the ground shaking when it's still. I don't want to be in any building."
The quake was centered about 4 kilometers outside Camposanto, northwest of Bologna, according to the US Geological Survey reported.
Despite steady rain and cold, around 3,000 people took advantage of the government-supplied tents or hotels, CNN reported, with up to 11,000 displaced, according to the London Telegraph.
Aftershocks shook the Emilia Romagna region, between the cities of Bologna, Modena and Ferrara.
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Sunday's quake — billed as the strongest in Italy since the 14th century — heavily damaged centuries-old cultural sites, including ancient churches, castles and historic palazzi.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was returning early from the NATO summit in Chicago on Monday, vowing, "All that is necessary will be done as soon as possible" to help the survivors.
He will convene a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, which is expected to formally declare a state of emergency in the affected area.
The Telegraph wrote that the food industries for which Emilia Romagna is famous had been hit hard, with about 200,000 wheels of Parmigiano and Grana Padano cheeses worth 50 million euros damaged.