Dozens of people are feared dead after a strong earthquake rocked central Italy.Officially, the death toll stands at at least 27 but more people are missing. Thousands have been made homeless after buildings were destroyed in the 6.3 magnitude tremor. Many properties are without power. The earthquake happened in the early hours of this morning, about 95 kilometres northeast of the capital, Rome. The strongest earthquake to hit Italy in years has devastated the medieval town of L’Aquila and surrounding villages. A search and rescue operation is underway with people thought to be trapped in the rubble. At least five children were killed when their family homes were flattened. Most of the old streets are blocked, with some parked cars buried, but even some modern structures on the outskirts collapsed. Part of a university residence was flattened as was the bell tower of a church in the town centre. The quake was the latest and strongest in a series to hit the l’Aquila area on Sunday and early this morning. It woke residents of Rome, which is rarely hit by seismic activity. Earthquakes can be particularly dangerous in parts of Italy because some buildings are centuries old.