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Italy Quake Recovery Efforts Underway

An Italian firefighter stands among rubble and destroyed cars in Modena, Italy, May 20, 2012.
Thousands of people in northern Italy woke up in tents and cars Monday morning, after a powerful 6.0 magnitude earthquake killed seven people and devastated centuries-old cultural sites Sunday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 35 kilometers northwest of Bologna.

It struck about 4 a.m. local time, sending panic-stricken residents running into the streets. A series of aftershocks followed.

Many of those residents said they are afraid to go back to their homes, fearing more aftershocks.

Civil protection crews are checking government buildings, schools, businesses, homes, churches and other cultural heritage sites to evaluate the scale of damage and costs of rebuilding.

The Italian Culture Ministry called the damage significant, with the quake turning historic buildings and churches into piles of rubble and dust.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has sent condolences to the victims. He plans to leave the NATO summit in the U.S. city of Chicago to return home early.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.