UPDATE: After a strong earthquake struck a mountainous stretch of central Italy early Wednesday the death toll continues to rise an now reports are indicating that the number has risen to at least 159 people, trapping scores under debris and setting off tremors that awakened residents in Rome, nearly 100 miles to the southwest.

The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, struck at 3:36 a.m., about 6.5 miles southeast of the town of Norcia in the Umbria region, followed by about 200 aftershocks over the next several hours, including a 5.5-magnitude tremor at 4:33 a.m. The authorities said the quake was comparable in intensity to one in 2009 in the Abruzzo region of central Italy that killed more than 300 people. Aftershocks continue to reel the region as we speak. CONTINUE