At least 27 people were killed in the Italian earthquake on Monday, according to a new provisional toll reported by ANSA news agency. At least 20 people died and thousands were left homeless when an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 shook central Italy early Monday morning, seriously damaging buildings in the mountainous Abruzzo Region east of Rome, officials told Italian news media. The epicenter was in LAquila, a picturesque Medieval fortress hill town, where eight people died and more were trapped under rubble, officials said. The situation is extremely critical, as many buildings have collapsed, Luca Spoletini, a spokesman for Italys Civil Protection Agencysaid. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency in the region. ANSA said fatalities were reported from six locations near LAquila. Four children died in hospital after their house collapsed, ANSA reported. A fifth child died in the village of Fossa, eight miles from LAquila. The quake struck around 3:30 a.m. and could be felt as far away as Rome, some 95 miles to the west, where it rattled furniture and set off car alarms. Part of a student dormitory, a church tower and other historic buildings were reported to have collapsed, ANSA said. LAquila cathedral was damaged. Initial reports said one person died when part of the student dormitory crumbled. Electricity, phone and gas lines were also reported damaged, as aftershocks continued. Hundreds of LAquilas 80,000 residents rushed from their houses and gathered in the central Piazza Duomo, where nuns from a local convent attended to frightened residents, ANSA reported. There are many palazzi that are cracked walls have fallen in, Joshua Brothers, an American missionary, told CNN. He also noted that a church in town had been badly damaged. The bell tower has crumbled, he said. He said many people had poured out of their homes after the quake. There were people calling for people that they know. They were very worried, he said. Most people are outside with luggage. People in surrounding cities in the Abruzzo region and the neighboring Marche region also rushed into the streets, fearing their houses would collapse. The United States Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 6.3. It was the most violent in a series of quakes to hit the region on Sunday night. Seismic activity is relatively common in Italy, but intensity like Mondays quake is rare.