Thousands of people have been left homeless, many have been injured and the death toll is expected to rise.
The tremor struck at just after 3.30am local time this morning and measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.
The epicenter was close to the city of L'Aquila in the center of Italy, about 100 miles north east of Rome in the Abruzzo region.
Picture Gallery L'Aquila Earthquake Devastation
Update: More Video
Italy Earthquake Death Toll Mounts