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One dead, 9 missing after quake hits Italy holiday island

© AFP | An earthquake hit the popular Italian tourist island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, causing several buildings to collapse on August 21, 2017

ROME (AFP) - 

A 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Italian holiday island of Ischia on Monday, causing destruction that left at least one dead and nine missing at peak tourist season, authorities said.

Some 25 people were hurt in the quake and debris that reportedly fell from a church killed a woman in Casamicciola, which is in the island's north.

The tremor hit at 8:57 pm (1957 GMT) and came just days ahead of the first anniversary of the 6.0 magnitude quake that killed nearly 300 people in and around Amatrice central Italy.

"I was on the couch watching TV. Blackout, shaking, something fell on my head. I scream, my mother grabs me and we ran outside," one witness wrote on Twitter.

Rescuers have already managed to pull a couple alive from the debris, and emergency workers were trying to free three children.

The quake response has benefitted from extra responders who happened to already be on the island to fight the forest fires that have plagued Italy this summer.

Italian authorities first put Monday's quake at 3.6, but subsequently revised it upward to 4.0 magnitude.

Firefighters said on Twitter that several buildings on the island were damaged or had collapsed. Ischia's only hospital was also hit and had to be partially evacuated.

Restaurants were packed and many stores were still open when the shaking began, witnesses said on Twitter.

"A horrible experience, everything was shaking, plunged into darkness, houses were collapsing... a nightmare," a witness wrote on Twitter.

Ischia has been a frequent victim of earthquakes, with its worst dating back over a century. Estimated at a magnitude of 5.8, it killed over 2,000 people in July 1883.

Much of Italy's land mass and some of its surrounding waters are prone to seismic activity with the highest risk concentrated along its mountainous central spine.

Italy straddles the Eurasian and African tectonic plates, making it vulnerable to seismic activity when they move.

© 2017 AFP