Quakes rock southern Italy, alarmed people sleeping outdoors

At least nine earthquakes have rocked southern Italy in two hours, prompting frightened residents to sleep outdoors.

Italy's national seismology agency INGV says the strongest quake measured 5.1 and struck at 8:19 p.m. Thursday. That jolt was followed in rapid succession by eight more tremors, with the strongest measuring at 4.4.

Epicenter of the quakes was Montecilfone, a small town in Campobasso province in the south-central region of Molise.

Civil protection officials say a boy was slightly hurt after leaping off a balcony in fear, but no injuries are blamed directly on the quakes. Molise Gov. Donato Toma says some buildings suffered cracks but no major damage occurred.

The biggest jolt was felt in much of Italy's south, including in Rome and Naples.

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