The quake’s epicentre was in the eastern-coastal Italian city Montecilfone.
The quake was also felt in the closest towns of Rieti and Alto Velino, still recovering from a powerful earthquake in 2016.
The shock sparked fears over active volcano Vesuvius in the city of Naples. Francesca Bianco, director of the Vesuvius Observatory, told press agency Ansa she has received floods of phone calls from worried residents.
Mount Vesuvius is located on the Gulf of Naples, about 9km east of Naples and a short distance from the shore.
Vesuvius is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years.
Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby, making it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world, as well as its tendency towards violent, explosive eruptions.
The shock was felt in Naples and the Vesuvius hinterland as well as in the close cities of Avellino and San Giorgio del Sannio.
The Neapolitan Fire Brigade Operations Room was also stormed by calls.
At the moment no damage has been reported in Naples.
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The earthquake was felt in different areas of the city and on the close island of Procida.
Naples residents have tweeted words of support for their neighbouring region as they reported to have also felt the shock.
One Twitter user wrote: “Friends from Molise, I really hope you’re all OK and there are no damages as we felt a strong shock in Naples.”
Franco Pallotta, Mayor of Montecilfone told Italian daily Corriere della Sera: “We’re in a four stories building, on the ground floor we saw the walls moving and a water pipe broke.
“It was very scary, most people took it to the streets.”
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Residents of the town of Palata, close to the epicentre of the earthquake, have reported slight damage to their homes and cracks on buildings.
This is the second serious shock to hit the region after a 4.7 shock was felt on Tuesday night.
The depth of the quake has been reported to be around 12km from the epicentre.
Carlo Doglioni, President of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said: “The earthquake is very similar in nature to the one that stroke San Giuliano, Apulia, in 2002.”
The 2002 quake caused the collapse of a primary school and the death of 27 pupils and their teacher.