L'AQUILA (AFP) - A violent earthquake rocked central Italy on Monday killing at least 150 people, injuring 1,500 and devastating a walled medieval town where buildings and homes were reduced to rubble. More than 1,700 rescuers scrambled in driving rain to find victims trapped under collapsed dwellings in the regional capital of LAquila, the quakes epicentre, and officials warned the toll would rise. Some 50,000 people were made homeless, emergency services said. Many residents fled LAquila, some even on foot. PM Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency and cancelled a trip to Russia in order to visit the Abruzzo regions main town, about 100 kilometres northeast of Rome. Rescue workers said at least 150 people were killed, stated Italian media, while Berlusconi told a news conference here that 1,500 people were injured, adding that a student from the Czech Republic was among the dead. No one will be abandoned to his fate, he vowed adding, a tent village was being set up that could accommodate between 16,000 and 20,000 people and would be ready by nightfall. In the late afternoon police began going door to door in LAquila, checking that people who had decided to stay in the crippled town - most of them elderly - had what they needed for the night. Were also patrolling to prevent thefts from empty homes, an officer told AFP after reports of looting. The quake struck just after 3:30 am (0130 GMT) and lasted about 30 seconds, bringing down many Renaissance era and Baroque buildings, including the dome on one of LAquilas centuries-old churches. The citys cathedral was also damaged. Roofs caved in on sleeping inhabitants and boulders fell off mountain slopes blocking many roads. At least five children were among the dead in LAquila, according to police quoted by ANSA news agency. The earthquake measured magnitude 6.2, according to the Italian geophysical institute. The quake, whose epicentre was five kilometers directly below LAquila, inflicted damage up to 30 kilometres away in all directions. Rescue workers pulled several people alive out of one four-storey building and said they could hear the cries of a woman still trapped. They planned to try to lift the roof with a giant crane. Doctors treated people in the open air outside LAquilas main hospital as only one operating room was functioning. LAquila resident Maria Francesco said: It was the apocalypse, our house collapsed. Its destroyed, and theres nothing left to recover. Its a scandal whats happened, she told AFP. For the past three months there have been regular tremors, and theyve been getting stronger and stronger Luigi DAndrea, a student, was asleep when the quake struck. Everything shook really hard and bricks started falling on me. Then it was an entire wall that collapsed in my bedroom, then a second. Condolences and offers of help poured in from around the world. We want to send our condolences to the families there, US President Barack Obama said during an official visit in Turkey. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the US embassy in Rome would provide 50,000 dollars in emergency relief funding. Italian authorities told countries offering assistance they did not need rescue teams. UN chief Ban Ki-moon was saddened by the loss of life and destruction of property in central Italy, his spokeswoman said. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said his country was shocked by the tragedy, adding: We sympathise with those who have suffered and share their sorrow. Pope Benedict XVI, too, sent his prayers, the Vatican said. Italy is criss-crossed by two fault lines, making it one of Europes most quake-vulnerable regions, with some 20 million people at risk.