A 5.8 tremor destroyed a number of buildings and killed at least 15 people. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.
Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET: MILAN, Italy -- An earthquake struck northern Italy on Tuesday, killing at least 16 people, damaging buildings and spreading panic among thousands of residents still living in tents after a tremor shook the region just over a week ago.
The 5.8 magnitude quake left 14,000 people homeless in the Emilia Romagna region north of Bologna, one of Italy's most agriculturally and industrially productive areas.
Salmoirago Paolo / EPA
A volunteer helps people evacuate the Tesoreria Comunale and Marino Palace offices in downtown Milan after Tuesday's earthquake.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake, which struck at 9:00 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), was centered 25 miles northwest of Bologna and was felt across much of northern and central Italy.
Prime Minister Mario Monti said: "I want to assure everyone that the state will do all that it must do, all that is possible to do, as fast as it can to guarantee the return to normality in a region so special, so important, so productive for Italy."
The earthquake was felt from Piedmont in northwestern Italy to Venice in the northeast and as far north as Austria. Dozens of aftershocks hit the area, some registering more than 5.0 in magnitude.
The temblor terrified many of the thousands who have been living in tents or cars since the May 20 quake and created a whole new wave of homeless. Seven people were killed in the earlier quake.
AP Photo / Luca Bruno
A young girl runs outside tents housing people made homeless in a May 20 earthquake in northern Italy. Another deadly quake hit the area on Tuesday.
"I was shaving and I ran out very fast, half dressed," a resident of Sant'Agostino, one of the towns devastated in the quake earlier this month, told AP Television News.
That quake destroyed hundreds of buildings, including ancient churches and castles, and forced more than 7,000 people to sleep outdoors in tents.
It also hit production of some of the area's most internationally famous produce, including Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Farmers estimated the damage to agriculture in one of Italy's most fertile zones at more than 200 million euros (around $251 million).
While Tuesday's quake was about 100 times less intense than the one May 20, its death toll was more than twice as high.
An 6.0 earthquake caused a violent tremor in Italy on Sunday, destroying historic buildings, including a cathedral. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.
People trapped under rubble
On Tuesday, officials said operations to rescue people from the rubble had been hampered by disruption to the mobile phone network.
"The town has been largely damaged. There are people under the rubble, we don't know how many," a police officer from Cavezzo told Reuters.
Train services around Bologna, near Modena, were disrupted, media said, and schools and other public buildings had been evacuated as far south as Florence.
"We felt a very strong tremor," said Raffaella Besola, a resident of Bologna.
Television footage on ITV News showed evacuees from the previous quake peering out of shaking tents in disbelief.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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