More than 200 people are believed to have died in a strong earthquake that struck central Italy on Wednesday morning, officials told state broadcaster RAI.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 6.2 magnitude quake hit near the town of Norcia, in the region of Umbria, at 3.36 a.m.

The mayor of Accumoli, the central Italian town, said a number of buildings had been badly damaged by the massive quake.

"Four people are under the rubble, but they are not showing any sign of life. Two parents and two children," Mayor Stefano Petrucci told RAI television.

Fire Department spokesman Luca Cari said Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta and Arquata del Tronto were among the worst hit towns. He also said helicopters were sent to rescue people, who are stuck in different places.

Reports said a 5.5 magnitude aftershock hit the same region an hour after the initial quake.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's spokesman posted on Twitter that the government was closely in touch with the civil protection agency of the country and was following the situation carefully.