The earthquake measuring 4,5 on the Richter scale ( 6-7 on the Mercalli scale) that struck Rome for ten seconds on Monday afternoon was the strongest earthquake to hit the area since 1919.

The epicentre of the quake was in the sea a few miles off the coast of Anzio, to the south of the capital, it was felt along 200 kms of the Lazio coastline and some holiday makers and surfers left the beach fearing the arrival of a tsumani. Damage has been slight and inspections have already begun on the historic monuments considered most at risk, particularly the Roman columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius which stand on relatively small bases. The Colosseum will be carefully checked, as will all the buildings on the Palatine hill and on the Appian Way. The fire brigade has already inspected the tunnels on the underground and the Olympic stadium. All state school buildings will be looked at for damage before school opens in mid- September.