A British honeymoon couple have revealed the terrifying moment that the earthquake in Italy shook their hotel room, as tourists are advised to steer clear of the region affected.

Ryan Sloan, a lawyer based in Glasgow, who's in Italy with his new wife Sarah, tweeted: "Most terrifying moment of my life there. Woke up as felt like someone violently rocking bed."

They were staying in a Rome hotel, a few minutes from the Coliseum, when the quake struck, the Daily Mail reported.

Even though the epicentre was in Umbria, 105 miles away, the event was strong enough to give them a huge scare.


He added to the Daily Record: "I was fast asleep when I was woken up with a big jolt. I had no idea what was going on. Then Sarah woke up and we just sat in shock, wondering what was going on."

Another Brit on holiday in Italy, Simona Mani, who lives in York, described how she was visiting her family at their home in Acquasparta when the quake struck 60 miles away and shook the house.

Mani told the Guardian: "This was definitely the strongest experience of an earthquake I have ever had, as the epicentre was close to here and near the surface. My parents and I were abruptly awoken when we heard a loud noise and felt the house shake violently.

"Some objects fell from the walls and we ran outside, as did many neighbours and most of the village.

"Fortunately our home was recently built and resistant to medium earthquakes."

British holidaymaker Cat Lenheim, 30, described how her family became trapped in their Italian villa in the pitch dark.

"We were in a villa in the mountains and we woke up to really vigorous shaking," she told MailOnline.

"The walls were all cracked and a massive full-length mirror fell down off the wall and smashed.

"The power all went, and we couldn't open the front door from where the building had moved. It was really difficult getting downstairs and out of the building in the pitch black and some of us have bruises on our arms from getting out."

Ms Lenheim, from Farnham, Surrey, was on holiday in Amandola - about a 45 minute drive from the epicentre - when the earthquake hit in the early hours of this morning.

She was part of a group that included her boyfriend Daniel Boff, 34, his parents, his sister Lora and her six-year-old daughter Lily, who is "really shook up".

A rescuer walks a sniff dog as they search through the debris of collapsed houses. Photo / AP
A rescuer walks a sniff dog as they search through the debris of collapsed houses. Photo / AP

"Although we couldn't open the front door at all we managed to get the back door open a bit so that we could slide out," she continued.

"Once we got out of the house we stood outside. There was an aftershock about an hour later and a few tremors.

"Because the building was so damaged we didn't want to go back inside, so we went to the nearest neighbours who were about a 15 minute walk away and had a cup of tea with them.

"It's so rural and small, the roads make all the places really difficult to get to.

"Then this morning we packed up all our bags and we've travelled to Rome now because the villa wasn't safe to stay in. We're staying in a hotel now, just to be safe."

She added: "We've been following all the news on our phones and it's so sad. We really feel for all the people who were affected because it was so scary."

The US Embassy in Rome, meanwhile, is advising tourists to avoid the region where the quake hit.

It said: "The U.S. Mission to Italy is assisting Americans in central Italy where a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck communities today at approximately 03:36AM.

"Reports by Italian media and the Civil Protection Agency note that many roads are blocked in these regions at this time, especially in more remote areas.

"The U.S. Embassy has restricted all but essential official travel to these regions and recommends that U.S. citizens defer travel in these areas as well.

"Americans affected by the earthquakes who require assistance, or persons with information or questions about Americans in the affected areas, may call the U.S. Embassy's earthquake response center at 06-4674 2944, or contact the center by email at USCitizensRome@state.gov."

The Foreign Office has advised tourists in Italy to check with the Italian authorities for the latest information about the earthquake.

It said in a statement: "If you are in the affected area, you should follow the advice of the local authorities.

"If you are in Italy, Civil Protection have activated a hotline 800840840 for information."

At present airports around the affected area - Perugia and Rome - are functioning normally, but the government has requested that the Via Salaria, one of the main roads to the area, be left free of traffic to allow rescue crews to reach the area more easily.

The towns that have been most badly affected are not considered tourism destinations, while others that are - Norcia, Perugia and other towns in Umbria and northern Lazio - have felt the quake but are not badly damaged

Survivors have described "apocalyptic" scenes in towns and villages near the city of Perugia - the capital of the tourist-packed Umbrian region, which is especially popular with British holidaymakers.

At least 38 are feared dead in the earthquake after people were crushed by falling buildings or suffocated by the rubble - rescuers have pulled out several from the ruins but can still hear voices from below.

Its epicentre was in Norcia in Umbria, about 105 miles north east of Rome, while the hardest-hit towns were reported as Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto.

Falling bridges and landslides mean some areas are still cut off with emergency teams only able to get there on foot.

The mayor of Accumoli, Stefano Petrucci, said this morning: "My town isn't here anymore" as people were carried out of ruined buildings on stretchers and people desperately searched the debris for survivors or sobbed as they inspected their own ruined homes.

Photographer Emiliano Grillotti said that in Accumoli he saw over 15 people digging with their bare hands to save a family of four with two children, according to Repubblica. He said: "I can hear one of the children screaming".

The quake hit during the summer when the populations of the towns and villages in the area, normally low during the rest of the year, are swelled by holidaymakers.

The centre of Amatrice was devastated, with entire palazzos razed to the ground. Rocks and metal tumbled on to the streets and dazed residents huddled in piazzas as aftershocks continued into the early hours.

"The whole ceiling fell but did not hit me," marveled resident Maria Gianni. "I just managed to put a pillow on my head and I wasn't hit luckily, just slightly injured my leg."

Another resident said she had been woken by the shaking in time to witness the wall of her bedroom cracking open. She was able to escape into the street with her children.