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ROME (Reuters) - A magnitude 5.3 quake struck the central Italian region of Molise on Thursday at a depth of 12 km, the U.S. Geological Survey said, forcing people to flee their homes but causing only minor damage.

The mayor of Montecilfone, the city near the epicentre of the quake, said people were scared and left their homes, but there was only minor damage.

"Some old walls that were already in bad shape have collapsed, but there's no major damage," Franco Pallotta said on SkyTG24. "People are alarmed. Thank God, I have no news of injuries."

The fire department confirmed that there had been no rescue calls from the area near the epicentre, noting that only slight damage to some buildings had been spotted. The Molise region's governor also said that only minor damage had been reported.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Reuters